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The High Level Architecture (HLA) distributed simulation modeling method is proposed to establish a distributed federation simulation model for multimodal operation system on container terminals. According to the analysis on the structure and activities of the system, the simulation federation was designed, including operation federate, information management federate and operation management federate. Then, the federation object model (FOM), interactive class and operation time sequence were designed. At last, this HLA-based simulation model was implemented and compared with a conventional simulation model using Arena. The simulation result shows the feasibility of the proposed modeling approach.