While it is true that the number of container ships calling in Halifax is down (Fairview Cove only gets five a week now) there is still the potential for growth in the actual number of boxes handled. The ships are getting bigger, even if the number of callers is not growing. It remains to be seen however how the three major container lines calling in Halifax will fare in the near future.
HAPAG-Lloyd, the largest customer, seems poised to jump into fourth place among the largest container lines in the world with its recent deal to "merge" with the Chilean line CSAV. This deal looks certain although so did last years abortive attempt to take over Hamburg-Süd. Perhaps with CSAV in the fold HAPAG's luke-warm majority owner TUI will finally be able to sell their holding and let H-L get on with business.
ZIM and its lenders have just recorded massive write downs in their investment to keep the company alive. This must have been a very bitter pill for all, but the last few years have not been kind to most shipping companies, but as a mid-size one, ZIM took a more severe hit.
Maersk, the world's largest, has still not declared its long term intentions for its transatlantic trade (and thus Halifax); but then they have quit Halifax and returned too many times to count. However they are slimming down their non-core business with the recent sale of their supermarkets and super-tankers. (Yes they were heavy into groceries.) For the time being they have kept their product tankers as one of some 156 shipping companies that they own or control.
Speaking of which today's arrival of Maersk Elliot is therefore slightly unusual - Maersk tankers are very rare here, and this one, operated by Maersk Tankers France SAS and registered in France, must be even more of a rarity. Built in 2005 by Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing, China as Bro Elliot, the ship was acquired by Maersk, and renamed, on the stocks. At 26,659 grt, 36,809 dwt, it is the latest example of the ubiquitous product tanker that now seems to be the most common type of ship arriving in Halifax. Its arrival from Houston with refined cargo for Imperial Oil is just the latest in a virtual floating pipeline steaming into Halifax from all over the world.
If Maersk becomes even more concentrated in its shipping areas, expect to see them expand the product tanker business, an area that seems to be freer of the uncertainties in the crude oil tanker market.
Also arriving today is another of those smallish European ships, with another cargo of rails for CN. These types of break bulk cargoes, not suited to containers, is also a potential growth area. The proliferation of "open hatch" and "box hold" ships with cranes certainly signals a demand. Halifax's new open pier development at pier 9C will cater to this trade, a looks to expand.
Part of the large German Intersee fleet, the ship carried the name Chandra Kirana during a ten year charter from 2002 to 2012. Its last port was Vlissingen, Netherlands, sailing form there December 31. It was a stormy crossing, and the ship's list to port indicates that there was a shift in cargo in bad weather.