What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry? | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Water flows through a washed-out culvert on the main CN Rail line which leads to the port of Halifax, after the heaviest rain to hit the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia in more than 50 years triggered floods, in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada July 23, 2023.

What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?

Container ships, cruise ships, cargo carriers and more vessels bound for Halifax the week of July 24-30, 2023.

There is some irony in Monday’s arrival and departure of the Atlantic Sun container ship, given how little sun Halifax—and most of Nova Scotia, for that matter—saw this past weekend. Friday and Saturday’s torrential rain and flash floods washed out roadways, destroyed bridges and prompted a provincewide state of emergency. It also threw a sizable wrench into Nova Scotia’s shipping economy, as the floods rendered a key portion of CN Rail track linking the Port of Halifax to the rest of Canada unusable. Speaking with reporters on Sunday, Nova Scotia premier Tim Houston said there was “extensive damage” to the railway near Truro and Millbrook First Nation.

A CN spokesperson told Reuters that some repairs would have to wait until flood waters receded.

“Once crews can safely complete their work, the track will be reopened,” CN's Jonathan Abecassis said in a statement.

In the meantime, container ships and cargo ships are still arriving at the South End Container Terminal and Fairview Cove Terminal. But it only takes looking at Nova Scotia’s coastal counterpart for what can happen when floods disrupt rail lines and highways: In November 2021, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority saw a backlog of 54 ships after a pair of atmospheric rivers prompted flooding and mudslides in the Fraser Valley and BC’s interior. Some shipping companies opted to send containers back to Asia empty, rather than wait to fill them with Canadian exports.

“It’s the tenuous nature of the thin supply chain,” Dennis Darby, the president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, told the Globe and Mail.

click to enlarge What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?
Robin Jaffray (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
The Port of Vancouver, seen in 2015. The province's shipping industry was upended by flooding in 2021.

And that’s likely just the beginning: Per a 2022 report from the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund, the global shipping industry is staring down potential losses in the billions of dollars from future disasters brought on by global heating. The report argues that without “ambitious action to reduce emissions,” the effects of global climate change could cost the shipping industry “up to $25 billion every year by the end of the century.”

“Just as the COVID-19 pandemic threw our ports and the global supply chain into crisis mode, the climate emergency will have major consequences for international shipping. In the face of climate breakdown, however, the shipping industry has an early warning bell and an opportunity to act,” Marie Hubatova, senior manager for EDF’s Global Transport team, said in a statement. “By stepping up to reduce emissions and invest in zero-carbon fuels, shipping leaders could help avoid these costly consequences and build a more sustainable future for the industry.”

Emissions have been an Achilles heel for shipping regulators: In 2020 alone, bulk carriers, container ships and oil tankers combined to emit 790 million tonnes of carbon dioxide worldwide—or roughly the equivalent of 171,739,000 cars. The UN’s authority over the global shipping industry has set a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions “close to” 2050, but some conservationists argue that falls well short of what’s needed.

For now? If you need a glimpse of global regulators’ climate priorities and where wealth lies, look no further than the Mary A. superyacht docked at the end of Salter Street earlier this week. Its owner? One Thomas O’Malley, who made a billion-dollar fortune buying unwanted oil refineries and ramping up their production.

Business as usual. Here’s what else is happening in Halifax Harbour this week:

Monday, July 24

While we’re on the subject of oil, the Katherine Lady oil tanker arrived at the Imperial Oil Terminal just before 1am on Monday. It wrapped an 11-day crossing from Antwerp, Belgium, and will leave the harbour on Thursday.

The ONE Swan container ship returned to Halifax just before 6:30am on Monday. The 138,905-tonne ship arrived at the South End Container Terminal from Norfolk, Virginia, after a swing through Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida. The ship left early Tuesday morning for Port Said, Egypt, and will head onward to the United Arab Emirates.

click to enlarge What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?
Martin Bauman / The Coast
A crane lifts a steel container from the ONE Swan container ship in Halifax on Tuesday, July 4, 2023.

On its heels, the 141-metre Lagarfoss container ship reached port from Reykjavik, Iceland. It left Halifax late Monday morning and arrived in Portland, Maine, on Tuesday.

Finally, the Gotland general cargo ship arrived at Halifax’s South End Container Terminal just after 11:30am from Moa, Cuba. It leaves next for Bilbao, Spain.

Tuesday, July 25

The week’s lone cruise ship arrival came into the Halifax Seaport on Tuesday: Holland America Line’s Zaandam made its 14th of 19 Halifax stops in 2023—the most of any cruise vessel visiting Halifax. The ship arrived from Saint John, NB, after earlier stops in Boston and Portland, Maine. It will carry onward to Sydney.

click to enlarge What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?
Photo: Martin Bauman / The Coast
The 1,430-passenger Zaandam cruise ship, seen in Halifax on May 4, 2023, returned to Halifax on July 25, 2023.

It’s a double Dutch arrival, too: The Pijlgracht general cargo ship—managed by the Spliethoff Group—reached the Richmond Terminals just after 7am on Tuesday. It came from Jacksonville.

Wednesday, July 26

Welcome back to the Atlantic Sea container ship. It returned to Halifax Harbour around 11am on Wednesday. The ship last visited Halifax on July 17, before venturing south to New York, Baltimore and Norfolk. It’s expected to leave late Wednesday afternoon for Liverpool, UK.

The Oceanex Sanderling made its weekly arrival from St. John’s, NL. It reached the South End Container Terminal around 6:30am, and will leave again for St. John’s on Friday.

Wrapping the day’s arrivals is the ONE Stork container ship—a twin ship to the ONE Swan—which is set to arrive around 3:30pm. It left Suez, Egypt on July 15.

Thursday, July 27

The NYK Remus container ship returns to the Fairview Cove Terminal on Thursday. It’s due to arrive from Antwerp, Belgium, around 5am after an eight-day Atlantic crossing. The Remus last visited Halifax in the first week of July, and has travelled across Europe since. Before Antwerp, the 65,981-tonne ship made stops in Le Havre, Rotterdam and Hamburg.

click to enlarge What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?
containerman2 / YouTube (screenshot)
The NYK Remus container ship, seen in Fairview Cove in 2022. The ship returns to Halifax on July 27, 2023.

At the same hour the Remus reaches Fairview Cove, the ZIM Qingdao container ship is expected to arrive at the South End Container Terminal from Valencia, Spain. The 261-metre ship left Valencia on June 19. It’s a brief stop for the Qingdao; the ship leaves for New York early Thursday evening.

Three more ship arrivals round out the day’s action: The Orion crane ship, Nolhan Ava ro-ro/cargo carrier and unfortunately-named STI Marvel oil tanker are all due in Halifax. The Orion left Halifax in May after towering over Dartmouth’s skyline for weeks.

The Orion arrives from Newport, Rhode Island, around 8:15am, while the Nolhan Ava is due from St. Pierre and Miquelon and the STI Marvel is inbound from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Friday, July 28

Two ships are due in Halifax on Friday: The Contship Art container ship—which deserves a more imaginative name—is inbound from New York, and the CMA CGM T. Jefferson container ship—by far the biggest ship arrival of the week at 367 metres long—arrives from Tanger Med, Morocco.

click to enlarge What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?
containerman2 / YouTube (screenshot)
The CMA CGM T. Jefferson, seen in Halifax in March 2021. The ship returns to Halifax Harbour on July 28, 2023.

The former will leave for Kingston, Jamaica, around 10pm, while the latter leaves early Saturday morning for New York.

Saturday, July 29

The Vistula Maersk is the lone ship scheduled to arrive Saturday. The 200-metre-long container ship is currently in Montreal. It’s due in Halifax Harbour around 7:15am and bids auf Wiedersehen around 3pm as it heads to Bremerhaven, Germany.

Sunday, July 30

Who said Sundays were for resting? Halifax sees one of its busiest days of the week on July 30, with three container ships and a vehicle carrier all due in port.

The Sunshine Ace vehicle carrier looks set to be the day’s first arrival. It’s en route from Emden, Germany, and is due at Eastern Passage’s Autoport around 5am. (There are some conflicting reports on this, as the Port of Halifax’s Port Control website lists the ship as arriving on Monday, July 31.)

click to enlarge What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?
Ralph Daily / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
The Sunshine Ace vehicle carrier, seen in Georgia in 2011. The ship returns to Halifax on July 30, 2023.

The 300-metre-long MSC Antonella container ship is due next. It’s set to arrive at the South End Container Terminal around 6:15am, after an 11-day crossing from Bremerhaven. The ship will then carry onward to Boston.

Finally, the MSC Melissa and Tropic Lissette container ships are both expected at the South End Container Terminal later Sunday afternoon and evening. The former arrives from Baltimore and leaves for Saudi Arabia, while the latter is en route from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, and will return southward to West Palm Beach, Florida.

Around the harbour

Curious about the presence of a US Coast Guard ship in Halifax Harbour this week? The Hollyhock cutter (ship-speak for patrol ship) is normally stationed in Port Huron, Michigan, but spent the bulk of Friday, July 21 to Tuesday, July 25 docked outside of the Nova Scotia Power building on Halifax’s waterfront.

click to enlarge What do the floods mean for Halifax’s shipping industry?
Martin Bauman / The Coast
The USCGC Hollyhock, seen in Halifax on Saturday, July 22, 2023.

Per Shipfax’s Mac Mackay, the Halifax stop was one last hurrah before Hollyhock’s retirement—or rather, refitting. It’s headed to Curtis Bay, Maryland for ship upgrades and is expected to resume a new seafaring life in Hawaii. Sounds nice.

About The Author

Martin Bauman

Martin Bauman, The Coast's News & Business Reporter, is an award-winning journalist and interviewer, whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Calgary Herald, Capital Daily, and Waterloo Region Record, among other places. In 2020, he was named one of five “emergent” nonfiction writers by the RBC Taylor Prize...
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