The first domestic vessel of 2013 arrived in Hamilton Harbour on March 25, marking the beginning of the 2013 shipping season. The Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) Laurentien arrived from Sandusky, Ohio, carrying a load of coal destined for U.S. Steel at Pier 16. Port of Hamilton welcomes more than 600 vessels each season, which runs from the last week of March through the end of December.

Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) officials greeted the vessel, presenting Captain John Bentum with the ceremonial Top Hat, as part of an annual Port tradition.

Port officials are optimistic about the 2013 shipping season. “We had a strong year in 2012, and we expect our strategy of cargo diversification to continue to drive tonnage growth this year,” said HPA President and CEO Bruce Wood. As the season’s inaugural shipment illustrates, steel-related cargo is a critical component of the Port’s total tonnage, representing approximately three-quarters of the total.

Other cargoes continue to increase as a proportion of the total. For example, agricultural commodities now make up 16 per cent of the Port’s tonnage, up from 10 per cent in 2009. This increase has been the result of substantial investments in terminal capacity. “Together with our tenants, we are investing heavily in terminal facilities to handle a wide range of cargo types,” said Bruce Wood. Liquid cargo is expected to be another growth area through 2013, driven by recent investments in storage and handling infrastructure, such as a new pipe rack to facilitate the loading and unloading of liquid bulk commodities at Pier 22.

The St. Lawrence Seaway System officially marked the start of the season with the opening of the Welland Canal and Montreal-Lake Ontario section with ceremonies in St. Catharines on March 22.