Large vessels with heavier loads can now call regularly at the deepwater Port of Quebec following the announcement of the raising of the maximum draft.

Port officials say Quebec's vocation as a bulk transshipment center in the heart of North America has been further strengthened as a result of increasing the maximum draft permissible for vessels calling here from 15 meters, or 49 feet 3 inches, to 15.5 meters, or nearly 51 feet.One of the strong marketing cards we are playing today to expand our business is our deeper draft, said port spokesman Dave Johanson.

No other port on the St. Lawrence can receive 150,000-deadweight-ton ships and provide complete intermodal service, said port general manager Ross Gaudreault.

Last year saw the port reach a new record in total traffic - 18.3 million tons. This surpassed the previous record of 18.1 million tons in 1981.

It was the Corporation of Lower St. Lawrence Pilots that recently gave the final go-ahead to increasing the maximum draft on the north channel leading to the port.

Located east of the island of Orleans downstream from Quebec City, the north channel is the only stretch of the river between the port and the Atlantic Ocean where shipping is subject to draft restrictions.

According to Jean-Yves Roy, president of the pilots' corporation, our experience with the growing number of deep-draft vessels that call at the Port of Quebec enables us to make these modifications while maintaining the highest standards of safety and efficiency.

The South Korean ore carrier, the Daeyang Honey, was allowed to sail through the north channel last August with a draft of 15.65 meters. The ship, with two pilots on board, delivered its cargo of 118,000 tons of iron ore without a hitch. This trial run was conclusive, Mr. Roy said.

The Daeyang Honey was able to carry an additional 6,500 tons of iron ore to Quebec because of the extra draft limit.