Port of Lae
Contact Information
Port Location:   Lae
Port Name:   Port of Lae
Port Authority:   PNG Ports Corporation Ltd.
Address:   PO Box 671
Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea
Phone:   321 1400
Fax:   321 2440
800 Number:  
Email:  
Web Site:   www.pngports.com.pg
Latitude:   6° 44' 28" S
Longitude:   146° 59' 8" E
UN/LOCODE:   PGLAE
Port Type:   Seaport
Port Size:   Medium
 
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The Port of Lae is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean on the mouth of the Markham River as it enters Huon Gulf in northeast Papua New Guinea. The Port of Lae is the capital of Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Province and the second biggest city in the country. It is located at the beginning of the Highlands Highway, the main land transportation artery from the highlands to the coast.

The Port of Lae is Papua New Guinea’s main cargo port and the marketing center for agricultural produce from the region. The primary commercial activities in the Port of Lae are based on timber, coffee, and plywood exports. In 2004, the Port of Lae was home to almost 110 thousand people.

Port History

In 1928, the Port of Lae was a Lehe mission settlement and a simple airstrip.

During the gold rush of the 1920s and 1930s, the Port of Lae grew up around an airstrip that is the Lae Nadzab Airport today. The airstrip was used to transport goods to the goldfields in Wau.

Famous American aviator Amelia Earhart was last seen in the Port of Lae when she took off to fly back to the United States in 1937 and was never seen again. The government decided to make the Port of Lae became Papua New Guinea’s capital when a volcano erupted in Rabaul in 1937; however, events delayed the move.

The Empire of Japan occupied the Port of Lae in 1942, and it became one of three important Japanese bases in New Guinea during World War II. In 1943, the Japanese had to retreat to Lae and Salamaua after losing the Kokoda Trail Campaign, the Battle of Wau, and the Battle of Buna-Gona. The Allies’ Salamaua-Lae campaign was successful, though, and the Port of Lae was taken by them after many weeks of intense battle.

The Port of Lae was utterly destroyed during World War II. After the war, it was rebuilt with new wharves, a slaughterhouse, saw- and veneer-mills, and all the amenities of a modern city.

After World War II, the development of the Port of Lae was closely linked to highlands’ development. A port was needed to export tea and coffee being grown in the highlands. When the Highlands Highway was completed, it provided a route to the Port of Lae for those exports. The mineral boom of the late 20th Century further supported the Port of Lae’s critical role to the national economy.

In 1991, Port Moresby and the Port of Lae co-hosted the South Pacific Games.

Port Commerce

The PNG Ports Corporation Limited is the port authority for the Port of Lae. It succeeded PNG Harbours Limited with the passage of the amended Act of 2002. The PNG Ports Corporation was incorporated in 2006, and the independent state of Papua New Guinea is the single shareholder of PNG Ports Corporation Limited. The National Executive Council appoints the General Manager and the Board. PNG Ports Corporation is responsible for controlling and managing all state-owned seaports in Papua New Guinea, but the regulatory functions once performed by the PNG Harbours Limited are now carried out by the Department of Transportation.

The Port of Lae contains 619 meters of berthing positions. Berths 1 and 2 at the Overseas Wharf are each 123 meters long with alongside depth of 11 meters. Berth 3 at the Overseas Wharf is 184 meters long with alongside depth of 11 meters. The Coastal Wharf contains Berths 4 and 5, both with alongside depth of 13 meters. Berth 4 is 54 meters long, and Berth 5 is 35 meters long. The Tanker Berth is 100 meters long with alongside depth of 10 meters. The Barge Ramp is 12 meters wide. Tidal range in the Port of Lae is 1.2 meters.

The Port of Lae offers over 53.5 thousand square meters of storage space. It contains over 14.2 thousand square meters of storage sheds. Sheds 1A and 1B each cover 1330 square meters. Sheds 4, 6, and 7 are each 1660 square meters. Shed 3 covers 4850 square meters. Shed 5 is 660 square meters, and Shed 8 is 360 square meters. The Port of Lae also has 39 thousand square meters of open storage.

The Port of Lae does not have wharf-mounted cranes; however, its mobile cranes have capacity for 20-ton containers. Heavier loads must be approved by the Port Authority before vessels enter the port. The Port of Lae’s Vigan Machine handles bulk cargoes of wheat and grain.

Cruising and Travel

The Port of Lae has a short but dramatic history. Serving as a strategic World War II base for the Japanese, thousands of Allied soldiers died re-taking the city. Many of their graves can be visited at the Lae War Cemetery located on the grounds of the Port of Lae’s botanical gardens.

Visitors will be enthralled while they tour rainforest habitat of the Lae Botanical Gardens. Tropical birds wearing bright colors, exotic orchids, and lizards make their homes in huge trees covered with creepers and vines. Covering about three thousand square meters, the botanical gardens house about 15 thousand exotic and native species of plants and 21 species of birds as well as butterflies, frogs, fish, turtles, lizards, and crocodiles.

Travelers who want to visit the Port of Lae and Papua New Guinea can find a list of scheduled cruises by searching for “Lae” on the Cruise Compete website.

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