Did you know that there are a number of different types of vessels that transit the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence Seaway, each designed for a specific purpose? Two types you will commonly see at the Port of Hamilton are “Lakers” and “Salties”. Though these vessels may look similar at first glance, they each have unique features that set them apart from one another.

Lakers, also known as lake vessels are designed specifically for use in the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence Seaway; they are not capable or authorized to operate in the open ocean. The Great Lakes have a unique set of weather, water and ice conditions and these vessels are designed to handle it all. Laker vessels carry dry bulk cargoes including grain, iron ore, sugar, sand and salt. Most are equipped with self-unloading technology enabling the crew to unload the vessel without the need for shore side personnel or equipment. Identifiable by a large steel boom extending down the deck from the ship’s superstructure, bulk material is carried along conveyor belts and lifted up and out onto the adjacent dock via the pivoting boom.

Salties or ocean-going vessels can operate almost anywhere in the world. These vessels are designed to carry dry bulk, break bulk and even project cargoes. For example, a Saltie might arrive at the Port of Hamilton importing construction materials to be used in projects across the GTA and leave the port exporting Ontario grown grain to overseas markets.

Next time you are by the Harbour see if you can spot the difference between the different types of vessels! You can always check what vessels are in port using the Vessel Tracker at www.hopaports.ca.