Skip to Main Content

Great Lakes Short-Sea Shipping Gets Boost


Julia Fields (613) 294-8515

Barge Cargo Service from Hamilton to Newfoundland Expands

Hamilton, Ontario (May 24 2011) — McKeil Marine Ltd. and Hunt’s Transport Ltd. have more than doubled the capacity of their short-sea shipping service from the Port of Hamilton to Newfoundland after a successful trial run.

Hunt’s Transport leased the barge service, which is managed by Hamilton-based McKeil Marine, to transport cargo for its customers last summer after running into delays and capacity problems with the Marine Atlantic ferry service to Newfoundland.

Last year, the barge service made four successful trips through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Argentia, Newfoundland. The service, which carries everything from construction materials and oversized equipment to general cargo on truck trailers, will now be expanded to nine trips this year.

Greer Hunt, president of Hunt’s Transport, said: “This is an operation we can move forward and add to our business model. That’s the route we’re barging ahead with. Much of the cargo is heading for mining and offshore projects. Atlantic Canada is having a bit of a boom and we’re looking at ways to take advantage of that.”

Hunt added that the capacity and fuel efficiency of barge transport provided significant environmental benefits. Normally, this cargo would be trucked all the way to North Sydney, Nova Scotia before being loaded onto the ferry to Newfoundland.

He said: “We can get 50 trailers onto a barge. Instead of 50 trucks burning fuel and releasing emissions into the atmosphere, we’ve got one barge with a much smaller carbon footprint.”

The first shipment of 2011 left Hamilton mid-April on the Niagara Spirit pushed by the tug John Spence. Subsequent trips, including one that left last week carrying building materials, cranes and mobile homes, will be using the barge Lambert Spirit and tug Salvor.

Steve Fletcher, president of McKeil Marine, said: “We enjoy the challenge and we are happy to be working with Hunt’s Transport. If the demand grows we will look into the feasibility of expanding the service, for now we will continue to offer a sound innovative solution to our customer.”

McKeil Marine and Hunt’s Transport have also recently formed a joint venture company to explore other areas of opportunity. This could involve services to more remote areas of Newfoundland and Labrador to deliver supplies and materials to specific industrial or construction projects.

Bruce Hodgson, market development director for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said that the Hunt-McKeil barge service was a good example of how short-sea shipping can be expanded in the Great Lakes-Seaway system. “It just shows there are market segments that can be serviced very well by short sea shipping in the Great Lakes. We need operators like McKeil, who are prepared to explore these opportunities. We complement them on their innovative approach.”

About McKeil Marine Ltd

Family owned since 1956, McKeil Marine has a proud tradition with over half a century of service in the maritime sector on the Great Lakes and St-Lawrence Seaway. Headquartered in Hamilton and with an office in Montreal, Quebec, its fleet of more than 40 tugs and barges carry general cargo, dry and liquid bulk, break bulk and project cargo to markets in Canada and the U.S.

About Hunt’s Transport Ltd. (HTL)

Hunt’s Transport Ltd. (HTL) is a transportation and logistics service provider led by founder and President, Greer Hunt, a businessman and entrepreneur in NL since the early 1980’s. Serving the demands of the oil, gas, mining, drilling, industrial, construction and general contracting industries, HTL provides truck, rail and marine transportation solutions. The company’s head office and warehouse is located in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland with a branch and 60,000 sq ft warehouse facility in Cambridge, Ontario.

Marine Delivers is a bi-national, industry collaboration that aims to demonstrate the economic contribution and environmental sustainability of the shipping industry throughout the Great Lakes region. The Marine Delivers initiative is administered by the American Great Lakes Ports Association in the United States, and the Chamber of Marine Commerce in Canada. For more information, visit the Marine Delivers website at

About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) is a bi-national association that represents diverse marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as Canadian domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system's significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.

Media Contact:
Jason Card
Chamber of Marine Commerce
(613) 447 5401