Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Nirint and Melfi

 The Port of Halifax hosts two shipping lines to Cuba: the Dutch company Nirint Shipping B.V. and the Cuban company Melfi Marine Corp's Melfi Lines. Due to the longstanding United States embargo on trade with Cuba, Halifax has been the beneficiary of such trade as there is. The embargo bans non US companies that do business with Cuba from doing business with the US. Therefore shipping companies that serve Cuba cannot call in US ports.

By coincidence ships of both lines were present in Halifax today, October 25.


The Gotland from Nirint arrived from Cuba late Monday, October 23 and tied up at Pier 27. It has been unloading its usual cargo of nickel sulphides for processing in Canada. A large nickel mining operation was expropriated by the Cuban government after the revolution that saw Fidel Castro take charge of the country in 1959. 

Metals Moa JV, a joint venture between Sherritt International Corp (of Canada) and General Nickel Co SA (of Cuba) operates the open pit mine in Moa, Cuba. Primary processing of the extracted ore produces the sulphides which are shipped in cargo bags to Halifax. The bags are then sent on by rail to Fort Saskatchewan, AB where further processing extracts nickel, cobalt and ammonium sulphate (for fertilizer). Nickel is a vital component for electric cars but the embargo prevents Sherritt from selling to US car manufacturers.

 The former US owners of the mine, now Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX), claim compensation for the expropriation, but the matter emains unresolved and certain persons associated with the current operation are persona non grata in the US as a result. The previous US government certified the FCX claim but the matter is far from resolved. Sherritt also has other business interests in Cuba, including power generation.

Gotland and four other ships maintain a regular service to Cuba from Rotterdam and Bilbao and return via Halifax. Nirint also serves Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire and Cuba from Holland and Spain with another three ship line.

Gotland on a prior visit to Halifax, March 9, 2023.

 Gotland is a general purpose / heavy lift ship, configured to carry containers, general and breakbulk. At 12,772 gt, 17,409 dwt the ship has a capacity of 834 TEU including 60 reefers. It also carries three cranes, two of 150 tonnes capacity (and combinable) and one of 80 tonnes capacity.

The ship was built in 2011 by the Xinshun Shipyard Group Co Ltd in Yueqing, China as Rickmers Tianjin, one of more than 100 ships in the venerable Rickmers fleet. Dating back to 1834 and the age of sail, the Hamburg based, family owned company failed rather spectacularly in 2017.  However this ship had been sold in 2015 to Gotland Schiffahrts GmbH and renamed Gotland.


Melfi Marine Corp is a Cuban owned shipping company that connects Cuba with Spain and the Netherlands. Their ships call here every two weeks or so on the Melfi Lines MEDCAN service. They have used short and medium term charters over the years, and today, October 25, was the first call for another in the long list of ships. CTM Istmo is typical of the general purpose type that they have been using.

 The 18,326 gt, 23,395 dwt ship was built by Guangzhou Wenchong in Wenchong, China with a capacity of 1740 TEU and it carries two 45 tonne capacity cranes. The ship was initially named Corvette and in 2015 became the Hansa Neuberg and in 2021 the Neuberg. Earlier this month it was acquired by Sociedad de Transportes Maritimos Atlantic Service Ltda, renamed CTM Istmo, and sailed from Algeciras on October 12.

The ship is due to sail this evening from PSA Atlantic Gateway Pier 42, for Mariel, Cuba.


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