Lesson 3: Marine Terminals and Stevedoring on the Great Lakes

HOPA Ports (Spacing)

Marine terminal operators [1] provide wharfage, dock, warehouse, or other marine facilities to vessel carriers and shippers. Private terminal operators are companies that lease terminals from a port authority and operate the leased terminal as a private business.

Stevedores are those that work at or are responsible for the loading and unloading of vessels at a marine terminal location, primarily located at a port.  Most ports have at least one general terminal that can handle all kinds of cargo for shippers and shipping lines.  

These Marine Terminal/Stevedoring Operators are responsible for quoting the loading, discharge, storage, and other services related to the handling of cargoes. They may employ labor from a unionized group such as the International Longshoremen’s Association, or have their own non-unionized labor pool to select from.

Lesson 3 (1)

Westport – Port of Hamilton


Marine terminals on the Great Lakes operate all year round, although they handle vessels primarily during the navigation season which is from mid-March until early January. There are some cases where vessels offer inter-lake services, which keep those terminals handling vessels all year round. Terminals generally offer rail and truck connectivity to support the logistics supply chain. Direct vessel-to-rail connectivity is very useful and cost-effective. Typical cargoes handled include bulk, breakbulk, project cargoes, and containers.

Some considerations to note when selecting a marine terminal:

  • Number of berths available
  • Available laydown space
  • Connectivity to rail
  • Labour options
  • Available draft for vessels
  • Custom bonded areas and/or sufferance areas
  • Storage availability
  • Access to markets


[1] Marine Terminal Operators