Dating back to the days of fighting sail, the maritime community has always maintained our deep-seated traditions. Keel laying ceremonies, vessel christenings, the hoisting of the colours and the rigid system of shipboard life, are all traditions that date back eons and yet still permeate our modern society.
Flags, in particular, have always held a special place in the maritime world and served a variety of functions from transmitting complex messages between ships to indicating a ship’s country of origin. Flags were an essential part of the history of the Port Weller Dry Docks. Throughout the history of Port Weller, it was customary to fly the company flag of any vessel undergoing repairs at the dry docks from the day the vessel arrived to the day that it was redelivered. As part of Heddle Shipyards’ revitalization of the Port Weller Dry Docks, we are resurrecting the flag-raising ceremony’s storied tradition.
On Wednesday, July 29th, 2020, it was our privilege to participate in the first ceremonial flag raising at the Port Weller Dry Docks since the shipyard was closed in 2015. The honour of the day went to Colin Kennedy, the Project Manager with Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) entrusted to manage the MV Oakglen dry docking on behalf of its owners. This was a fitting choice as Colin inaugurated not only the re-birth of the flag-raising ceremony but his personal transition from Chief Engineer aboard ship to the shore-based Project Manager role.
The Kennedy family are no strangers to maritime traditions as both Colin and his father served as engineers aboard Great Lakes freighters. Calling St. Catharines home, Colin is overseeing the dry docking of the MV Oakglen at the Port Weller Dry Docks – a new career challenge but one that will keep him close to home and close the ships he has sailed on for his entire career.
The simple yet powerful act of raising the CSL flag is a testament to Heddle Shipyards’ commitment to bringing the Port Weller Dry Docks back to life and building strong relationships with our valued clients. If you are driving by the dry docks, take a moment to notice the Canada Steamship Lines’ flag proudly fluttering in the breeze – the first of many in the years to come.