The big news in 2018 came towards the end of the year, with the Halifax Port Authority beginning the expansion of pier 42, and the possible acquisition of Halterm by CN Rail.
These stories will probably be significant news stories in 2019 as well. Many other notable events happened in and around the port this past year.
In a bid to cut costs, ZIM started a new Canada Florida Express (CFX) service, and dropped Halifax from the ZCP (Pacific to East Coast) Service. The ZCA (trans-Atlantic) Service remained unchanged, while the ZCI (Mediterranean to East Coast) service began being marketed by The Alliance as AL7, after it cancelled the Halifax call of its competing AL6 Service.
Maersk added a new weekly Med/Montreal Express (MMX) Service, with its first call in Halifax in early August but Halifax was dropped from the service in November. Tropical Shipping also began calling in Halifax in January, moving from Saint John, N.B.
The March 18 call of APL Salalah at Halterm set the current record for largest container ship to call on Halifax at 10,798 TEU. Hangzhou Bridge holds the record for the Fairview Cove at 8,974 TEU, calling just 11 days later.
At Halifax shipyard, the BOA Barge 37 arrived to facilitate launching of the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships at the end of April. The first ship of the class received its final coat of paint in August, was launched in September, and was named HMCS Harry DeWolf in a ceremony at the shipyard in early October.
The centre and stern megablocks of AOPS #2, the future HMCS Margaret Brooke, were rolled out and joined at the end of September, and the keel laying ceremony for AOPS #3, the future HMCS Max Bernays, was held Dec. 5. The federal government also announced it was going ahead with a sixth AOPS, after splitting the Halifax-class maintenance contract between Halifax Shipyard and Chantier Davie Canada Inc. shipyard in Levi, Que.
Davie’s first conversion project, the interim supply vessel NRU Astrix, arrived in Halifax for the first time and, after workups, sailed for the West Coast. The former HMCS Athabaskan was consigned to the scrapers in January, and was towed from the port for the last time on March 29.
The navy’s sail training vessel HMCS Oriole was reassigned to Maritime Forces Atlantic, after a winter refit in Lunenburg. The ship was previously based in Esquimalt, B.C.
Halifax saw visiting American, French, British and Danish naval vessels in 2018, beginning with USS Little Rock, which had overwintered in Montreal due to ice. Classmates USS Wichita and USS Sioux City also stopped in Halifax, on their way to their home ports from the builders yard in the Great Lakes.
Other visitors included the Danish patrol ship HDMS Ejnar Mikkeleson; U.S. Navy submarine USS Toledo; French submarine F.S. Amethyste; British supply ship R.F.A. TideSpring; USS Hue City, a guided missile cruiser; BASH Rhone, a French naval support vessel; and U.S. Coast Guard Cutters USCGC Katmai Bay, USCGS Mobile Bay, USCGC Legare, and USCGC Abbie Burgess.
The year 2018 brought a record number of cruise ships and cruise passengers to the port. Fram was the first cruise ship of the season, arriving on April 22. Insignia was the last, calling on Nov. 6. The brand new Norwegian Bliss made a stop in Halifax April 30 on her maiden voyage, bound for Alaskan waters.
Grimaldi named one of its new build car carriers Grande Halifax, after the port. Grimaldi Group is the parent company of ACL, one of the Port of Halifax’s first container customers. Dominion Diving purchased Dominion Warrior, a flat-deck workboat, and Leeway Marine added the high-speed patrol vessel Leeway Striker to its fleet. Halifax Transit took delivery of the final two new Dartmouth Ferries, the Vincent Coleman in January and the Rita Joe in October.
It wasn’t all good news in 2018, however. The Port of Halifax lost its bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth, as the charter was not renewed. The ship sailed for Saint John, N.B., to begin working for Irving Oil.
Bunkering services remain available in Halifax via truck. In June, three men were arrested with diving gear after 150 kilograms of cocaine was found in a sea chest of the container ship Aracia. The ship was operated by CMA-CGM on the Maersk CAE service.
In July, a dump truck operator was killed when his truck ended up in the harbour at the infill site next to Fairview Cove. In August, the Tufts Cove power plant spilled several thousand liters of Bunker C oil into the harbour. The cleanup took months.
The CCGS Corporal McLaren MMV was damaged in November after someone cut the cables securing the cradle the vessel was sitting on at the CAE Shipyard in Sambro Head, causing it to become partially submerged.
What does 2019 hold? Port expansion, new container-ship size records, and the delivery of the HMCS Harry DeWolf to the navy are easy predictions to make — the rest, time will tell.