Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority welcomes the first vessel of the 2023 shipping season

  • McKeil Marine’s MV Florence Spirit is the first vessel of the 2023 shipping season in the Port of Hamilton
  • Captain Michael Rodaway is presented annual Top Hat in Port of Hamilton, along with Chief Engineer, Vivek Sachdev
  • Algoma Central Corporation’s MV NACC Quebec is the first vessel of the 2023 shipping season in the Port of Oshawa
  • Captain Orval Bouchard is presented annual Top Hat in Port of Oshawa, along with Chief Engineer, Pierre Tetreault

HAMILTON, ON – The first vessel of the 2023 shipping season has arrived at the Port of Hamilton. The vessel MV Florence Spirit arrived from Detroit for delivery to Pier 21, ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

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

“This year marks the 76th year of our Top Hat Ceremony,” said Vicki Gruber, HOPA Ports Harbour Master and Director of Safety & Security. “The commemoration signifies the opening of the Navigational Season and is a gesture of welcome and respect. As the Harbour Master, it is my honour to present the Top Hat to the Captain of the vessel.”

Port of Hamilton

Captain Michael Rodaway and his crew onboard the vessel arrived in Hamilton on March 22nd. The ship’s cargo was unloaded while docked at the pier. Captain Rodaway has been with McKeil Marine since 2016 and has often found himself at the helm of the Florence Spirit.

“It is a true honour to be presented with this year’s Top Hat for the Port of Hamilton,” said Captain Rodaway. “I along with my great crew are proud to play an important role in the local economy and represent Canada’s Merchant Navy.”

Vivek Sachdev is the vessel’s Chief Engineer. He has been a valued McKeil crew member since 2020. 

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, and late mother of Blair McKeil, Vice Chairman of the Board.

The MV Florence Spirit is the first of more than 150 vessels carrying key raw materials that are scheduled for delivery to ArcelorMittal Dofasco this year. 

“The annual opening of the Seaway reminds us how vital this waterway is to the economies of Canada and the US,” said Danielle Lewis, Manager, Raw Materials and Logistics for ArcelorMittal Dofasco. “For us, in the port of Hamilton, the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway System is critical to our business in both domestic and international shipping.”

“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,” Lewis continued. “We wish all of the vessels and crews safe passage on the Seaway this season.”

Names (left to right): Kirk Jones, Operations Manager, McKeil Marine; Vicki Gruber, HOPA Ports Harbour Master and Director of Safety & Security; Captain Michael Rodaway, McKeil Marine; Chief Engineer Vivek Sachdev, McKeil Marine; Danielle Lewis, Sourcing Manager, ArcelorMittal Dofasco

Port of Oshawa

In Oshawa, the first vessel of the 2023 shipping season, MV NACC Quebec, arrived from Port Daniel, delivering cement to St Marys Cement on March 28th.

Captain Orval Bouchard has been with Algoma for nearly three years. He was a Senior Captain with BC Ferries on the West Coast and has a Naval background.

“It is always an honour to receive the Top Hat,” said Captain Orval Bouchard. “Our vessel the NACC Quebec is a regular at the Port of Oshawa. Our crew enjoys the great City of Oshawa and are proud to play an integral role in delivering goods to serve the local economy.”

Pierre Tetreault is the vessel’s Chief Engineer. 

St Marys Cement was founded in 1912. It is part of Votorantim Cimentos and has been a major producer of cement materials in the Great Lakes Region. The port of Oshawa plays an important role as a gateway for the construction materials needed for residential and civil construction projects throughout the Greater Toronto Area. St Marys Cement is committed to delivering superior products to meet the demands of growth and supporting the region’s ongoing prosperity.

“We’re honoured and proud to be the first vessel in this year, signaling the start of the new shipping and construction season,” said Kelly Curtis, Senior Vice President of Sales and Logistics for Votorantim Cimentos North America. “The Port of Oshawa is always welcoming and plays a critical role in St Marys Cement’s intermodal distribution network, enabling us to supply products when and where they’re needed in support of new construction, infrastructure improvements and modernization.”

Names (left to right): Mark Lunn, Terminal Manager, St Marys Cement; Mayor Dan Carter, City of Oshawa; Chief Engineer Pierre Tetreault, Algoma Central Corporation; Captain Orval Bouchard, Algoma Central Corporation; Vicki Gruber, HOPA Ports Harbour Master and Director of Safety & Security; Councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, Chair of Economic and Development Services, City of Oshawa; Claudio Faria, Oshawa Manager, HOPA Ports

About Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority

As an integrated port network, the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) offers port and marine assets in Hamilton, Oshawa and Niagara. An efficient, multimodal network on the Great Lakes, it supports Ontario industries and facilitates trade. By investing in high-quality infrastructure and prioritizing sustainability, HOPA helps build prosperous working waterfronts in Ontario communities. Overseeing more than 1,000 acres and more than 140 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]

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