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8 Deepest Sea Ports in the World

In global trade, the deepest sea ports around the world play crucial roles in controlling the scale and efficiency of shipping operations. These ports are designed to accommodate the largest vessels and ensure efficient and cost-effective transportation of goods across the globe. It would not be contradictory if we label these ports as the pillars of international commerce. Let’s dig deep and explore the 8 deepest sea ports in the world in current times.  
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List of 8 Deepest Sea Ports Worldwide 

  • Port of Sines, Portugal
  • Yangshan Port, China
  • Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Port of Tanger Med, Morocco
  • Port Hedland, Australia
  • Port of Santos, Brazil
  • Busan Port, South Korea
  • Colombo International Container Terminal, Sri Lanka

1- Port of Sines, Portugal

Port of Sines, located in Portugal, is the deepest sea port in the world. With a maximum depth of 28 meters, it is an ideal location for large vessels to dock and unload their cargo. The port serves as a major hub for trade and commerce due to its close location to Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal.

The port has a history that dates back to the 14th century when it was initially established as a sheltered fishing village. Over the years, it has evolved into a major commercial hub and handled a significant portion of Portugal’s cargo and energy supplies.

The Port of Sines has a total area of 2,200 hectares. It is strategically located at the crossroads of major international maritime routes, making it an important gateway for trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The port is open twenty-four hours a day and offers several services such as pilotage, mooring, towage, and management of ocean traffic.

One of the port’s most notable features is its specialized terminals. The Liquid Bulk Terminal, for example, is designed to handle large volumes of liquid cargo, including crude oil, refined products, and natural gas. The Container Terminal, known as Terminal XXI, is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and can accommodate vessels of up to 16 meters in depth.

2- Yangshan Port, China

Yangshan Port is located in Hangzhou Bay, China. It is the world’s second deepest and busiest sea port. The port is an important point on the Maritime Silk Road and is connected to Shanghai’s Pudong New Area by the Donghai Bridge. 

The port’s history began when it was decided to build it in four stages in the early 2000s. The first phase opened in 2004, followed by the second phase in 2006, and the third phase in 2010. The fourth and final phase, which began trial operations in 2017, added huge capacity to the port. 

Yangshan Port is well-known for having deep-water ports that can hold the biggest container ships in the world, with a maximum depth of about 27 meters. The most special feature of the port is its high level of automation. 

The port uses Huawei’s technology to enable remote operation of quayside container cranes and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for loading and unloading containers. This level of automation has improved the port’s efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 10%.

Yangshan Port is also a key element of the Belt and Road Initiative as it handles cargo for the largest container ships in the world. Its strategic location and advanced infrastructure make it a hub for international trade and logistics. In the coming years, China is also planning to expand this port. The port’s expansion plans include the addition of over 30 deep-water berths.

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3- Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands

The Port of Rotterdam is the third deepest sea port in the world with a maximum depth of around 24 meters. Its history, which dates back to the fifteenth century, has seen it grow from a tiny fishing port to a key commercial center that handles a wide range of ship and cargo movements. Today, it is the largest seaport in Europe.

The port’s expansion has been influenced by its location on the Rhine River, which connects to the North Sea. The construction of the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway) in the late 19th century further enhanced its importance by allowing larger ships to navigate the port. 

Over the years, the port has expanded and added new facilities and terminals such as the Europoort complex, which became the heart of Europe’s major oil refining and petrochemical industry. Another notable feature is its ability to handle a wide range of cargo, including bulk goods, oil, and petrochemicals. 

The port is also home to 14 container terminals, handling both short-sea and deep-sea shipping, as well as inland shipping. The port’s expansion continues, with ongoing projects such as the Maasvlakte II development, which added 1,000 hectares of the port area and increased the port’s capacity. 

4- Port of Tanger Med, Morocco

The Port of Tanger Med is located just 40 kilometers from the city of Tangier. With a depth of 22 meters, it is known as the fourth deepest sea port worldwide. Its history started in the 15th century when the Portuguese first attempted to build a breakwater to tame the rough waters of the Strait of Gibraltar. 

Over the centuries, the port has undergone various transformations, from the construction of piers and breakwaters in the early 20th century to the establishment of the Société du Port de Tanger in 1921, which was granted the exclusive right to build and maintain a modern port. In 2007, the current Port of Tanger Med came into being and revolutionized Morocco’s maritime landscape.

Today, the port includes three main areas: Tanger Med 1, Tanger Med 2, and Tanger Med Passenger Port. The port’s location at the intersection of major shipping routes connecting Europe, Africa, and the Americas has been a key factor in its success. 

Another factor in the port’s success is its visionary strategy to attract international businesses into the surrounding industrial zones, which are home to over 1,200 companies operating in sectors such as automotive, aeronautics, logistics, and textiles.

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5-Port Hedland, Australia

Port Hedland is the fifth deepest sea port in the world, located in Australia. Its maximum depth is estimated at around 20 meters. The town “Hedland” was named after Captain Peter Hedland, who highlighted its potential as a port when it was founded in 1896. 

Over the years, it evolved from servicing local industries to becoming a major trade zone. Initially used for importing goods and exporting various products like pearl, wool, and gold, the port saw notable growth post-World War II, especially in manganese exports. 

A major turning point was the port’s development of the iron ore and salt industries in the 1960s, which prompted massive digging and building and made it an essential facility for loading a variety of minerals and products on big ships.

Today, Port Hedland stands out as one of the largest iron ore loading ports globally and the largest in Australia. With an annual cargo tonnage of 561 million tonnes in 2021/22, it plays a crucial role in the region’s economy. 

Port Hedland’s special features include its natural deep anchorage harbor, ideal for iron ore shipments from nearby deposits. Apart from iron ore, the port also provides services to natural gas fields, salt, manganese, and livestock industries. 

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6- Port of Santos, Brazil

The Port of Santos is located in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. It was established in 1892 and has operated as an important venue for international commerce and trade for more than a century. The sixth deepest sea port in the world has a depth of approximately 17 meters. 

The Port of Santos is massive, covering an area of approximately 1,200 hectares. On the other hand, the port’s strategic location on the Atlantic coast, near the city of Santos, makes it a crucial entry point for goods destined for Brazil and other South American countries.

One of the port’s most notable features is its state-of-the-art infrastructure. It is equipped with advanced technology, including automated cranes and conveyor systems, which enable efficient and rapid handling of cargo. The port also features a dedicated rail network that links it directly to Brazil’s rail system and makes it easier to transfer commodities. 

The Port of Santos is a significant economic driver for Brazil. It is particularly important for the export of agricultural products, such as coffee, soybeans, and sugar, as well as manufactured goods like automobiles and electronics. 

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7- Busan Port, South Korea

Busan Port is the seventh deepest sea port, located in the city of Busan, South Korea. It has a depth of almost 17 meters. Busan Port was founded in 1876 as a small point for trade between Korea, China, and Japan but it evolved over the years.

During the Korean War between 1950 to 1953, Busan’s location at the mouth of the Nakdong River made it a vital hub for receiving war materials and aid, as well as a shelter for refugees fleeing the conflict. The period of pain and crisis served to strengthen the port and its modernization. 

Today, Busan Port is the largest port in South Korea and one of the busiest in the world. The port has an incredible range of facilities, including 43 berths spread across the North Port and Busan New Port, capable of accommodating a wide variety of vessels and cargo.

The port’s location has earned it the title of “Gateway to Northeast Asia” and it also serves as a vital link between Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region. Beyond its economic significance, Busan Port is also a hub of innovation and research. 

Institutions like the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI), the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST), and the Korea National Maritime Museum contribute to the port’s ongoing development and help maintain its position in the global maritime industry.

8- Colombo International Container Terminal, Sri Lanka

Colombo International Container Terminal is one of the deepest sea ports in the world, particularly in the Indian Ocean region. Its depth is estimated at around 18 meters. It is a joint venture between China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. 

The terminal was established under a 35-year Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement, which has enabled it to become a premier container handling facility in the region. CICT is known for its impressive size and capacity. The terminal is designed to handle large vessels.

The terminal’s infrastructure includes three quay cranes and 65 rubber-tired gantries. CICT is also equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including advanced container handling systems and sophisticated security measures.

The terminal’s highly motivated and skilled staff are committed to maintaining the highest standards of productivity, efficiency, and service. This commitment has earned CICT recognition as one of the most significant foreign direct investment contributors in Sri Lanka.

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These 8 deepest sea ports worldwide highlight the significant role these ports play in facilitating global trade. The Port of Sines in Portugal stands out with depths reaching up to 28 meters, followed closely by Yangshan Port in China, which has depths of up to 27 meters. The Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands is known for its extensive dredging projects. Other notable ports include the Port of Tanger Med in Morocco, Port Hedland in Australia, Port of Santos in Brazil, Busan Port in South Korea, and Colombo International Container Terminal in Sri Lanka. These ports are crucial for accommodating large vessels, reducing costs, and improving the logistics chain for goods around the world. Their depths enable them to handle significant volumes of international trade efficiently.


1- What is a Deep Sea Port?

A deep sea port is a port located in deep water, typically 30 feet or more, that can accommodate large ships. 

2- Which Port is Deepest in the World?

Port of Sines, located in Portugal, is the deepest sea port in the world, with a maximum depth of 28 meters. 

3- Which Country has the Most Deep Sea Ports?

China has the most deep sea ports, including Yangshan port, Dalian port, and Shanghai port, known for their significant depths. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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