On a sunny day in June 2021, 300 shipping containers were loaded aboard the vessel Sedna Desgagnés at the Port of Hamilton bound for the Port of Montreal. Launched by Hamilton Container Terminal (HCT), in partnership with HOPA Ports, this new ‘Short Sea Shipping’ service uses the Great Lakes as a marine-highway alternative to road-based transportation.

Every day, more than 10,000 trucks move goods between the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area and Montreal. The new shipping service moves some of this traffic to a greener, less-congested water route. Upon arrival at the Port of Montreal, most of the containers are transloaded onto oceangoing vessels, destined for markets in Europe, India and the Middle East.

“A Great Lakes container service has been a goal for us since day one,” said HCT President Amandeep Kaloti. “We are thrilled to see this initiative come to life.”

The service feeds Canadian export markets for products such as steel, agricultural products and lumber. HCT also sees opportunity in ‘flexibags’, a fillable insert that allows the transport of liquid commodities by container, potentially enabling exports of Canadian goods like edible oils and Ontario wine.

“As we focus more now on growing our economy and trade, this service could not be starting at a better time,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports. “There is an appetite to consider new solutions that help us build back smarter, greener, and more efficiently. Short sea shipping on the Great Lakes has been talked about for a long time, but a number of factors have aligned now to make it work.”


Marine vessels are now able to refuel with liquefied natural gas (LNG) during any stopover at Hamilton Port thanks to a partnership between HOPA Ports and REVLNG, a Pennsylvania-based LNG services provider. This new service is a major milestone in the energy evolution of the Great Lakes marine shipping industry, which is looking for new ways to reduce GHGs and advance environmental goals.

“As a founding member of the Green Marine program, we are always looking for new ways to support improved environmental performance. This offering to our shipping customers will keep HOPA at the forefront,” said HOPA Ports CEO Ian Hamilton. “We look forward to continuing to find new ways to support improving air quality, reducing GHGs, and working collaboratively with Canadian and U.S. marine and energy sector partners to help accelerate the adoption of LNG, and spur further fuel innovations. It also aligns with HOPA’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025.”

Previously, the only LNG capacity at ports in Canada existed along the west coast in BC and the St Lawrence River in Montreal and Quebec City. The Port of Hamilton is the first port to offer this service on the Great Lakes. LNG is recognized as an immediately viable and cost-effective alternative, or transition fuel, alongside longer-term technologies like electrification, biofuels and other renewables.

Recently, a new milestone was reached with the 10th successful LNG bunkering with the Rossi A Desgagnés and REVLNG at Hamilton Port.