Port of Sept-Îles announced the arrival of MV Happy Star with the two gigantic shiploaders destined for the port’s multi-user dock. The ship, which left the port of Longxue in Nansha, China, on December 29 for a 43-day, 10,275-nautical-mile voyage via the Panama Canal, arrived in Sept-Îles on February 11. Immediately on arrival, Happy Star docked at the multi-user dock and began unloading. The new equipment will complete this world-class facility, increasing its loading capacity to make it the highest in North America.


Happy Star, which specializes in this type of transport, is the property of BigLift Shipping, part of Netherlands-based Spliethoff Group, and one of the world’s leading oversized cargo carriers. While the shipowner had anticipated that unloading could take between 14 and 21 days, given the scale and complexity of the operation, unloading was completed by February 28. The cargo consists of two shiploaders, including elevator and tripper car, and 27 conveyor galleries totaling 73 components and weighing in at 3,023 metric tons, each shiploader weighing 1,200 tonnes.

The equipment contractor, Sandvik Canada, deployed an innovative solution to carry the shiploaders, conveyors, and components aboard a single ship and ensure they were unloaded in the proper sequence to optimize installation dockside. These cutting edge shiploaders were assembled using North American components for the drive system, electrification, and instrumentation. These components were shipped to the assembly site by container ahead of time.

This is the recently built Happy Star’s maiden voyage to North America, and the ship and its remarkable cargo even attracted the attention of the producers of the Discovery Channel show Mighty Ships. A camera team from the show joined the vessel for its Panama Canal crossing in order to put together a feature on the transport and unloading of these extraordinary giant machines at the Port of Sept-Îles.

According to port officials, the new shiploaders will be cold-commissioned this spring, likely in May. “We’ll put in them into service and wait until business picks back up,” Raynald Ouellet, the port’s Vice-President of Operations and Business Development, told Canadian Sailings.

Much of that business is expected to come from new dock-partner Tata, which is the only one continuing to extract large amounts of iron ore from the Labrador Trough after other miners contracted or ceased production, due to the current low iron ore prices.

Tata is currently sending its iron ore pellets and concentrates from its facilities in Labrador City to Iron Ore Company of Canada’s shipping terminal and deepwater port in Sept-Îles. “They are looking forward to coming to their own facility,” said Ouellet. He expected that to happen later this year.

For port officials, the hoopla over the shiploaders’ arrival on Happy Star provided some sunshine in the otherwise gloomy skies of iron ore commodity prices.

According to Shawn Grant, Harbour Master and in charge of security at the port, the two Sandvik shiploaders were both loaded and discharged in sequence. “It’s quite an amazing operation to see,” he said.

A two-minute, time-lapsed video of the loading is available on YouTube at youtube.com/watch?v=0m5qBuRW_KQ.