Visakhapatnam was an ancient Port city which had trade relations with the Middle East and Rome. Ships were anchored at open roads and were loaded with cargo transported from Visakhapatnam shore by means of small Masula boats. A reference to Vizagapatam merchant is available in the inscriptions of Sri Bheemeswara Swamy temple (1068 AD), East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh. During 12th century AD, Vizagapatam was a fortified merchandize town managed by a guild.
In 1682 became a settlement of a branch of East India Company. Rs. 83 lakh worth of goods were moved through Vizagapatam / Bhimunipatnam in 1882-83. Principal commodities traded at anchorage Port included Muslin cloth – manufactured at Uppada (East Godavari District), Manganese ore – exports to UK and USA, Oilseeds, jaggery, jute and indigo, hides and skins. Extensive trade relations existed with Burma.
Vessels of British India Steam Navigation Company regularly visited the Port. With the advent of British Rule, in 1858, the need for a port in this part of the country was emphasized in the report of British Survey Party. Later in 1877 in the report. Vizag the Port of Central Provinces further emphasized the need for construction of a Port at Visakhapatnam. It was only after the first World War (1914-18) the proposal of Col. H. Cartwright Reid of British Admiralty for construction of a harbor at Visakhapatnam at the mouth of river Meghadrigedda was approved by the Government. The unique feature of the harbour has is the Island Break-water, constructed by scuttling two old ships JANUS and WELLESDON which form the skeleton around which a rubble mound is formed.
Two engineers Mr. W.C. Ash and Mr. D.B. Rattenberry were instrumental in making this engineering marvel a reality. The existing land locked Inner Harbour was built by Bengal Nagpur Railway between 1927 and 1933 to provide sea outlet for Manganese ore of the Central Provinces (Madhya Pradesh). The location of the port is very ideal that it affords protection from cyclones which strike the east coast regularly, by a high promontory into the sea, known as Dolphin’s Nose Hill which is to the North of the entrance channel.
The low tidal range of a maximum of 1.82 meters is also advantageous for the location of the port. The harbour was constructed by dredging 281.8 million cu.ft. of land and soft material. It consists of the following:
1. Outer channel and inner channel.
2. Island breakwater, sand trap and turning basin.
3. Quay wall of 1600 ft (3 berths) and two transit sheds.
4. Three storage sheds, open storage area.
5. Four electric quay cranes, three NG Locos and one weigh bridge.
The Port was opened to ocean traffic with the arrival of a passenger vessel S.S.JALADURGA of the Scindia Steam Navigation Co., on the 7th October, 1933.
The Port was formally inaugurated by His Excellency Lord Willingdon, the then Viceroy and Governor General of India on 19th December 1933.
In the first year of operation, the Port handled a traffic of 1.3 lakh tonnes. The exports were 1.2 lakh tonnes and imports 0.1 lakh tonnes. The principal exports were manganese ore and groundnuts. The imports consisted of rice, flour, tiles and other consumer goods. The cargo was transported through bullock carts. During the Second World War (1939-42) the Port assumed military importance. After the war and country’s independence, the planned development of the Port started with the commencement of Five Year Plans of the country.
Substantial investments were made in the successive Five Year Plans for developing the infrastructure in the Port.
The metamorphosis of the small Port with 3 berths and with initial annual traffic of 1.3 lakh tonnes with steady growth lead to be a Major Port with 24 berths and annual throughput of 65 million tonnes with many landmarks. The Port administration has passed through different departments and Ministries of the Government of India till its transfer to the Port Trust in February, 1964 under Major Port Trusts Act 1963.
- 1933-35 Railway Board
- 1935-37 Commercial Department
- 1937-42 Communications Department
- 1942-44 WAR Transport Department
- 1944-46 Defence (WAR) Department
- 1946-56 Bengal Nagpur Railway
Construction of three jetty berths (WJ-1, 2 &3) Construction of one quay berth (EQ-4) Construction of oil wharf consisting two oil berths (OR-1&2)
Commissioning of two captive iron ore berths WOB-1(now WQ-4) and WOB-2(WQ-5) Commissioning of ore handling plant Commissioning of captive Fertilizers berth (FB) Commissioning of EQ-5 and EQ-6 Constitution of Visakhapatnam Port as a Trust, Commencement of Night Navigation
Commissioning of New Oil Mooring to accommodate large crude ships. Commissioning of Outer harbour and ore berths (OB-1 and OB-2) to accommodate ships of size 150,000 DWT
Construction of an off shore tanker terminal (OSTT) in the outer harbour to accommodate crude tankers up to 150,000 DWT Construction of a General-cum-Bulk cargo berth to cater to ships upto 60,000 DWT
Conversion of the jetty berths WJ-1,2 and 3 into a regular quay berth with more apron width. Commissioning of a multi-purpose berth EQ-7 in the inner harbour. Commissioning of multipurpose berth in the outer harbour (now Container terminal) Construction of an exclusive and specialized terminal for discharging LPG from gas carriers at the outer harbour.
Commencement of operation of the first BOT project – Container terminal at outer harbour concessioned to Visakha Container Terminal P Ltd. Development of two new berths in the extended Northern arm of Inner Harbour (EQ.8 & EQ.9) on BOT basis by M/s.Vizag Sea Port Pvt. Ltd. Commissioning of a multipurpose berth WQ-7 in the inner harbour Navigation of first PANAMAX vessel into inner harbour Commissioning of the LPG cavern facility Merging of Visakhapatnam Dock Labour Board with Visakhapatnam Port Authority Widening entrance channel of IH to 111 meters and permissible draft to 11 meters Installation of 2 nos., harbour mobile cranes at West Quay berths of the inner harbour on hire basis.
Outer harbor is deepened to (-) 20m, outer turning circle to (-) 21m and outer approach channel to (-) 22m to handle CAPE vessels of draft up to 18m. Inner harbor entrance channel deepened to (-) 16.10m dredge depth to handle PANAMAX vessels of draft up to 14.50m.
Development of WQ7 & WQ8 berths (two berths), 280m in length each, in inner harbor to handle PANAMAX vessels of draft up to 14.50m. Development of EQ2 to EQ5 berths (two berths), 280m in length in inner harbor to handle PANAMAX vessels of draft up to 14.50m.
Development of OR-III berth, 180m in length in inner harbor to handle vessels of draft up to 12.00m.