People Around the Port: Who is a Harbour Master?

Harbour Masters are specialists and professionals who oversee the operational readiness of ports, in Canada, this includes safety, security, and environmental protection. A Harbor Master is entrusted with overseeing and enforcing the port’s “practices and procedures” to ensure the safety of ship navigation, the security of the harbour and the efficient use of port facilities.

Harbour Masters administer the port’s “practices and procedures” and work with other federal regulators such as Transport Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard to assist those agencies as required. They have the authority to direct ships entering, leaving, or moving within the port to ensure safe and efficient use of the harbour. Geographical configurations of the port, terminal operational requirements, prevailing weather conditions, water depths, and the height and strength of the local tides are some factors that a Harbour Master considers when determining the movements of commercial vessels. Notification of the vessel’s arrival sometimes begins weeks before the actual arrival, and if the ship is performing a complex loading or discharging operation, that planning may commence many months in advance.

Vessel Traffic Monitoring System

In addition to the marine aspect of the job, Harbour Masters oversee other operations that take place on port lands and terminals. While the job can be administrative in nature, Harbour Masters can be out on the docks in all weather conditions. However, the diversity of the job keeps this role exciting and rewarding.

Port Saint John appointed Chris Hall as Vice President Operations and Harbour Master in 2014. Captain Hall has over 30 years experience in the marine industry. He is a Master Mariner and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Nautical Sciences. His career began with the Canadian Coast Guard, where he served on vessels ranging from ice breakers in the Arctic to search and rescue ships in the Atlantic. After several years with the Coast Guard, Chris moved on to private industry where he shifted focus to the offshore oil and gas sector. He served as Chief Officer and Master on anchor handling/supply vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and on the East Coast of Canada. Chris has spent the latter part of his career in shore-based positions ranging from operational to strategic management roles. In this capacity, he has had the opportunity to travel to ports around the world, to manage customers, oversee vessel construction and secure new business. Currently, Chris is focused on strengthening the port’s operational and safety systems to support its users and make ready for port expansion.





Captain Chis Hall, Vice President – Operations & Harbour Master

Follow our Harbour Master on Twitter @HbrMasterPSJ

This post is also available in: French