After several months of bad news on the cargo front, the Port of Halifax appears headed for a few bright days.
The container vessel Maersk Douala is scheduled to arrive in Halifax today as Maersk Line starts a short-term, limited service connected to the crab fishing season. Crab is a temperature-controlled commodity and a very profitable cargo to transport. And there are unconfirmed reports that Caterpillar, a major customer of the port and Atlantic Container Line, is planning to bring its business back to Halifax and Cerescorp.
The Douala will be the first Maersk vessel to use the port since the line stopped calling at Halifax in early 2007. The vessel is part of the MECL2 service, which connects the U.S. East Coast and a number of Mediterranean and Middle East ports.
“This limited service will utilize the Maersk MECL 2 string and is expected to last about 10 weeks,” a Maersk spokesperson said in an e-mail Monday.
“This is a temporary addition of Halifax as a call on the service for a few weeks and does not reflect any intention to add Halifax to the normal rotation in the long term.”
Maersk, which calls at Halterm, has a second vessel scheduled, Maersk Djibouti, for May 13 and is expected to be the first of 10 additional weekly calls.
“We are delighted to have them back and we are going to work very hard to ensure that this service call works well for them in the hope they may consider an eventual return on a full-time basis,” Halterm president and CEO Doug Rose said Monday.
The unconfirmed report that Caterpillar is looking at Halifax again is also good news.
The heavy equipment manufacturer decided to take its business to Virginia earlier this year because of CN’s inconsistent rail service. The rail line said its service problems centred on very difficult winter conditions.
Caterpillar, which moves equipment through Halifax to Chicago and Peoria, said when it moved from Halifax that it was only temporary.
Sources say there have been discussions involving Caterpillar, ACL and CN.
ACL president Andy Abbott said earlier this year that Caterpillar moves between 20,000 and 25,000 containers through Halifax a year.