Port Terminology

Air Gap

Distance from the surface of the water to the lowest point of safety below the Halifax Harbour Bridges. This applies to passing commercial and recreational vessels.

Atlantic Pilotage Authority

Federal Crown Corporation responsible for providing marine pilotage service to Atlantic Canada.

Atlantic Towing

Provides marine services such as barge charter, coastal towage, offshore support, anchor handling ocean, coastal towage, harbor and terminal towage, vessel escort, ice breaking, barging, and salvage services.


One of North America’s largest vehicle processing and transshipment facilities. It is owned and operated by CN.


A flat-bottomed ship, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods.


Allotted place at a wharf, dock, or terminal for a ship.

Breakbulk Cargo

General cargo or goods that do not fit in shipping containers. Examples include construction equipment, manufacturing materials, oversized vehicles, boats, cranes, turbine blades, ship propellers, generators, large engines and more.

Bulk Cargo

Commodity cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities. Items such as oil, grain, or coal are all examples of bulk cargo. 


Prefabricated concrete box-like structure used for building piers. It is floated into position and then filled with rock material to weigh it down. Alternatively, the caisson can be removed by removing the fill material and floating it to another location.

Canada Marine Act

Legislation to make the system of Canadian ports competitive, efficient, and commercially oriented, and other matters related to maritime trade and transport.


Goods or produce transported  by water, air, or land.


Company or individual that transports the cargo from one location to another.

Ceres Halifax

Terminal Operator at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal.


Canada's largest railway, in terms of the physical size of its rail network. CN is Canada's only transcontinental railway company, spanning from the Atlantic coast in Nova Scotia to the Pacific coast in British Columbia.

Comprehensive And Progressive Agreement For Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

Free trade agreement between Canada, the European Union, and its member states. 

Container Handling Gantry Crane

Type of large dockside gantry crane found at container terminals for loading and unloading intermodal containers from container ships.

Container Yard

Area of a terminal where containers are stored while awaiting transport.

Containerized Cargo

Shipping freight in large, standardized, sealed containers. The contents of these containers does not need to be unloaded at each point of transfer.

Cruise Association

Non-profit or not-for-profit organization of cruise homeports and ports-of-call for the promotion of their destinations to cruise lines and the cruising public (e.g. Cruise Canada New England). A cruise association can also be a non-profit or not-for profit organization of cruise lines and related organizations and businesses (e.g. Cruise Lines International Association).

Cruise Berth

In a port, a berth is where the ship is docked.

Cruise Infrastructure

Physical facilities used for cruise ships such as docks, gangways, roadways, parking, terminals, etc

Cruise Port of Call

Destination on a cruise itinerary. Calls may range from five to 24 hours. A cruise port of call can also be referred to as transit port or destination port. 

Cruise turn around or homeport

Origin port from which a cruise ship loads passengers and to which it returns to disembark passengers upon conclusion of its voyage. It is also where the cruise ship’s supplies are loaded, which includes everything from fresh water and fuel to food, beverage, and any other supplies needed for the cruise. A cruise turn around or homeport can also be referred to as embarkation port or turn around port.

Double-stack Rail

Containerized cargo stacked on top of each other on a railroad car.

Fairview Cove Container Terminal (FCCT)

Container terminal located in the north end of Halifax. The terminal is operated by Ceres Halifax.


Goods carried by a vessel or vehicle, especially by a commercial carrier. Freight is often used interchangeably with cargo. 

Freight Forwarder

Acts as an intermediary between a shipper and various transportation services such as ocean shipping, trucking, expedited shipping by air freight, and rail. 

Gate Wait Time

The average time a truck has to wait at the terminal gate

Greenfield Terminal

Plot of land that is unhindered from previous projects or infrastructure, allowing freedom of design for terminal development. 

Halifax Harbour

One of the largest and deepest natural harbours in the world. Halifax Harbour is ice-free year-round with the shortest travel time for ships leaving North America for east-Atlantic destinations.

Halifax Port Authority

One of the 17 Canada Port Authorities (CPA) operating at arm’s length from the federal government and governed by a board of directors selected by port users and the municipal, provincial, and federal governments.


  • Set the business direction and make commercial decisions for the port
  • Set their own fees (for example, berthage and wharfage fees) but such fees must be fair
  • Are responsible for maintaining and dredging commercial shipping channels
  • Act as landlords, leasing their port operations to private operators
  • Are financially self-sufficient and do not receive federal funding to meet operating costs or deficits. CPAs finance their capital projects using their own revenues but are able to partner with the private sector, borrow from a commercial lender, and apply for federal grants related to infrastructure, the environment, or security.  

Halifax seaport

district artistique et culturel dynamique qui se trouve à l’extrémité sud du secteur riverain d’halifax.

Halterm Container Terminal Limited

Operator of the South End Container Terminal. 


Rededication of land in an urban environment—usually open-space—to new construction.


Moving goods using two or more different modes of transportation.

Intermodal Terminal (Rail Ramp)

A sloping platform situated at the end or beside a track and rising to the level of the floor of the rail cars.

International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA)

Largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 65,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico, and Eastern Canada.

Ocean Terminal

Piers 23 and 24 at the Port of Halifax. Ocean Terminal is used for working cargoes that require large amounts of open space and cruise. 

Off-Dock Intermodal Yard (ODIY)

An inland container processing site equipped to handle full and empty containers. Containers are delivered to the yard by truck and moved to ship by rail, and vice versa, eliminating the need to haul containers directly to the waterside terminal.


Raised structure in a body of water.


Person who conducts a ship into and out of a port or specified waters.

Port Operations Centre

Located on the Port of Halifax’s website to maintain the safe and efficient movement of marine traffic and cargo with real-time data.

Rail Ramp (intermodal terminal)

Location where containers are loaded onto rail cars for transporting to exporters or for unloading with cargo for importers.

Reefer Container Box

Temperature controlled container box.

Richmond Terminal

Located in the North end of Halifax, adjacent to CN’s Halifax Intermodal Terminal. Richmond Terminal is centrally located with highway access and on-dock rail, features multi-purpose facilities with an enlarged open pier and laydown area to handle roll-on/roll-off and breakbulk cargo with enhanced heavy-lift capabilities. 

Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro/Ro)

Vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo—such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars—that are driven on and off on their own wheels or using a platform vehicle.

Sequestration Facility

Approved location for the disposal of pyritic slate. 

Shipping Line/Carrier

Business that transports cargo aboard ships.

Shore Power

Highly effective method to reduce marine diesel air emissions by enabling ships to shut down their auxiliary engines and connect to the electrical grid to provide necessary power while docked.

South End Container Terminal (SECT)

A container terminal located adjacent to Point Pleasant Park in the south end of Halifax. The terminal is operated by Halterm Container Terminal Limited.


Person employed, or a contractor engaged, at a dock to load and unload cargo from ships.

Supply Chain

System of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.


End of a transport route.

Terminal Gate Metrics

Provides current visibility on fluidity of our truck gates by providing current and historic information on two key metrics:

  • Gate Wait Time
  • Truck Service Time

Terminal Operator

Oversees activities at a terminal and ensures the safe and efficient delivery and packing up of goods on ships and trucks.

Terminal Truck Gate

Area of a container terminal through which container trucks enter and exit.


Entreprise conjointe de maersk et d’ibm fondée sur la technologie de la chaîne de blocs.

Transport Canada

Government of Canada department that is responsible for transportation policies and programs. 


Powerful boat used for towing and pushing.

Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU)

Measure of volume in units of twenty-foot long containers. TEUs are often used to describe the capacity of a container ship.

Ultra-Class Container Vessel (UCCV)

Container ship with a capacity of 10,000 TEU and over. UCCVs are also referred to as ULTRA vessels or Ultra Large Class Vessels. 


One of the world's leading engineering professional services firms providing management and consultancy services to the built and natural environment.