Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority celebrates 2024 shipping season with the arrival of the First Vessels

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  • McKeil Marine’s MV Florence Spirit is the first vessel of the 2024 shipping season in the Port of Hamilton
  • Captain Michael Rodaway received the annual Top Hat for the 2nd consecutive year in the Port of Hamilton, along with Chief Engineer, Shaun Vary
  • Algoma Central Corporation’s MT NACC Argonaut is the first vessel of the 2024 shipping season in the Port of Oshawa
  • Captain Glenn Powell received the annual Top Hat in the Port of Oshawa, along with Chief Engineer, Oleg Rybakov

HAMILTON, ON – The first vessels of the 2024 shipping season have arrived at the Ports of Hamilton and Oshawa.

The Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA Ports) celebrates the start of each shipping season with the ceremonial presentation of a Top Hat to the Captain of the first vessels, a tradition that began in 1947.

“As we mark the 77th year of our Top Hat Ceremony, we’re not just celebrating a tradition – we’re honouring the heart of maritime commerce,” said Vicki Gruber, HOPA Ports Harbour Master and Director of Safety & Security. “This moment signifies the start of our Navigational Season and is a reminder of the collective commitment to the efficiency and reliability of our supply chain. As Harbour Master, presenting the Top Hat to the vessel’s Captain isn’t just an honour, it’s a symbol of the alliance we share with our port community and those who navigate its waters. Together, as we begin a new season, we’re dedicated to seamless trade and mutual respect.”

Port of Hamilton

McKeil Marine’s MV Florence Spirit arrived from Detroit for delivery to Pier 21, ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

Captain Michael Rodaway and his crew onboard the vessel, arrived in Hamilton on March 23rd. Captain Rodaway has been with McKeil Marine since 2016 and has often found himself at the helm of the Florence Spirit.

“We are very honoured and pleased to be this year’s Top Hat recipient for the second year in a row,” said Captain Rodaway. “Hamilton is our home port as well as the location of many of our customers. We are proud to play such an important role in the local, regional, and national economy.”

Shaun Vary is the vessel’s Chief Engineer. He is in his 4th season with McKeil and has been in the industry for 25 years.

McKeil Marine was established in 1956 and has a long-standing history in the Greater-Hamilton area, delivering marine transportation and project services throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, East Coast and in the Arctic. The Florence Spirit is named in honour of Florence McKeil, wife of company founder Evans McKeil, and late mother of Blair McKeil, Vice Chairman of the Board.

“McKeil Marine is honoured to open the navigation season once again at the Port of Hamilton,” said Scott Bravener, CEO at McKeil Marine Limited. “As a local company, the port has been an instrumental part of our business since 1957 and plays a vital role in the supply chain and economy of our province.”

The MV Florence Spirit is the first of many vessels delivering vital raw materials to ArcelorMittal Dofasco this year.

“The Seaway is vital to the economies of Canada and the US. For us, in the Port of Hamilton, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is critical to our business and the start of the season is a welcome day each year,” said Tony Robinson, Vice President of Procurement Services at ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

“The safety, health and wellbeing of each and every person working on our site is a core value for ArcelorMittal Dofasco, so we were especially pleased to welcome the McKeil Florence Spirit and crew after a safe voyage. We wish all of the vessels and crews safe passage on the Seaway and will be looking forward to welcoming approximately 160 boats at our docks during the season,” Robinson added.

The first international vessel was the MV Federal Yukon. Captain Jaspreet Singh Lamba, Chief Engineer Naveen Avaronan Narayanan and their crew loaded 22,000 MT of Canadian corn at G3 Hamilton.

Port of Oshawa

In Oshawa, the first vessel of the 2024 shipping season, Algoma Central Corporation’s MT NACC Argonaut, arrived from Port Daniel delivering cement to St Marys Cement on March 27th.

Captain Glenn Powell has been with Algoma for nearly four years. Chief Engineer Oleg Rybakov has been with Algoma since March 2023.

“As Algoma celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, we are excited to honour another vessel, the NACC Argonaut, this time with HOPA’s Top Hat for Oshawa,” said Gregg Ruhl, President and CEO of Algoma Central Corporation. “Today, we are reminded of the importance of our strong 8-years young partnership with Nova Marine Carriers and the continued prospect for future opportunity and growth. Wishing our crews aboard the Argonaut safe voyages as we head into the 2024 shipping season,” concluded Mr. Ruhl.

The first international vessel was the MV Ocean Castle. Captain Franjo Maric, Chief Engineer Berislav Pajer and their crew delivered Spooled Rebar and Merchant Bar to the Port of Oshawa.

About Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority

As an integrated port network, the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA Ports) offers port and marine assets in Hamilton, Oshawa and Niagara. By investing in high-quality infrastructure and prioritizing sustainability, HOPA Ports helps build prosperous working waterfronts in Ontario communities. Overseeing more than 1,400 acres and more than 160 tenant companies, 40,000 Ontario jobs are connected to the cargo that passes through HOPA’s integrated ports.


For more information, please contact:

Kelly Noseworthy
Communications Advisor
[email protected]

Media Assets can be found HERE

Password (case sensitive): HOPA-first-vessels

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Larissa Fenn

Vice President, Corporate Affairs

Larissa Fenn is Vice President, Corporate Affairs at HOPA Ports, leading a team responsible for communications and government relations, sustainability reporting, corporate governance and corporate culture.

Previous positions included communications and public policy roles at the Canadian Bankers Association, Credit Valley Conservation Authority, and the Regional Municipality of Halton.

Larissa holds a B.A.(Hons) in Political Science from Queen’s University. She holds the APR designation from the Canadian Public Relations Society, and completed the Senior Public Sector Leaders program at the University of Western Ontario, Ivey School of Business. Larissa has served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Royal Botanical Gardens, and as a member of the Policy Council of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

Bill Fitzgerald

Vice President, Strategic Development

Bill assumed the role of Vice President, Strategic Development in 2024, after having served as HOPA’s Vice President, Operations since 2008.

Bill joined the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority in July 1995 as Project Engineer. He previously worked with the Regional Municipality of Ottawa’s Transportation Department, as well as for the Toronto Transit Commission and the City of Waterloo.

Bill received a Bachelor of Applied Science, civil engineering / water resources, in 1995 from the University of Waterloo and registered with the Professional Engineers of Ontario in 1997.

Jeremy Dunn

Vice President, Operations

Jeremy assumed the role of Vice President, Operations in 2024 after having served as HOPA’s Commercial Vice President since 2019. Prior to joining HOPA, Jeremy served in successive leadership roles at The Miller Group, one of Canada’s leading transportation construction and infrastructure maintenance companies. Jeremy has managed multiple business groups in the heavy construction, asphalt paving and aggregates sectors driving results through business restructuring, service improvement and strategic growth. In his most recent role, Jeremy served as General Manager of Miller Maintenance, responsible for managing and growing Miller’s highway maintenance business in Ontario.

Previous to The Miller Group, Jeremy held the position of Director of Operations for the Dunn Group of Companies.

Jeremy earned his Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) through Queen’s University. He also holds a Master’s Certificate in Project Management.

Janet Knight

Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Chief Financial Officer for the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority since 2008, Janet joined the HPA in 1998 as Accounting Supervisor and subsequently served as Controller.

Prior to joining the HPA, Janet held the position of Financial Analyst with St. Joseph’s Hospital, as well as various positions, including Marketing Communications/Research Lead with Zeneca Agro. Janet graduated from McMaster University in 1986 with a Bachelor of Commerce. She attained the professional designation of Certified Management Accountant in 1992.

Ian Hamilton

President & CEO

Ian Hamilton is President & CEO of HOPA Ports (Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority). He assumed this role in 2017, after serving as the Port Authority’s Vice President of Business Development and Real Estate since 2008. Ian has been instrumental in developing working waterfronts in Hamilton, Oshawa, and Niagara by attracting new business and private investment, and creating an integrated marine network across Southern Ontario.

Ian possesses more than 25 years of experience in international transportation and logistics in Europe and North America, and has held progressively senior positions in the liner shipping industry, including Transatlantic Trade Director (Europe) for CP Ships and Business Development Manager for Hapag-Lloyd. Ian is Chairperson of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, and holds positions on various other boards, including: the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the Hamilton Club, and Brigs Youth Sail Training.

Ian holds an MBA from Aston University (UK) and a BSc in business administration and economics from the College of Charleston, South Carolina.