The Port of Oostende is critical to the economy of the region. The first car-ferry left the port in 1949. Today’s Car-Ferry Terminal contains a modern passenger terminal with bars, restaurants, and shops. It also contains a passenger gangway connecting the terminal to the city’s rail station.
The Port of Oostende has focused on expanding and modernizing its roll-on/roll-off facilities. At Berth 105 is the Transeuropa Ferries Berth with a car park and a passenger gangway directly to the railway station. Used for roll-on/roll-off cargo by the Ferryways shipping line, the facility for Berths 501 and 502 covers about 12 hectares and also offers about 20 hectares of storage space. Berth 206, also for roll-on/roll-off cargo, is used primarily by Transeuropa Shipping Lines. It has a three-hectare site for container handling and daily direct rail connections to Italy. A new roll-on/roll-off berth has been opened at the Tijdock to accommodate both Ferryways and other ships.
Since 2001, the Port of Oostende is also an important container port serving Rotterdam and Antwerp. Ferryways operates the container service. With an international airport and rail and highway networks easily accessible, the Port of Oostende is positioned to be an important hub for the movement of goods throughout Europe. Located at the western side of the Zeewezendock, the container terminal covers about three hectares and has an additional two hectares of storage areas.
The Port of Oostende also handles general and bulk cargoes. Berths 201 and 202 are adjacent to quayside area of about ten thousand square meters. The sand and gravel terminal at Berth 204, containing a concrete mill, is operated by the Deepwaterquay Hanson Aggregates. Berth 205 offers a large warehouse for handling and storing clay products. Berths 607-609 are the site of a new aggregates terminal.
The Port of Oostende’s inner docks are fully equipped to handle cargo that includes building materials, scrap metal, ores, and timber. Its easy access makes it ideal for project cargo like storage tanks, factory parts, and engines. The eastern quayside Houtdock accommodates transfer of timber, fertilizers, and bulk cargoes from ship to rail.
The Port of Oostende owns the Canal Gent-Oostende. There are two inland terminals (Berth 719) on its left banks, one used by a coal import company and the other by a complex of chemical companies that covers 50 hectares. The right bank has a new dock and large multi-use land area. The Plassendale 1, a large business park with multi-modal transportation access, occupies 90 hectares and is being developed as a logistics park by partners GE-Capital and Belgian KBC Bank.
The Port of Oostende’s largest marina, the Marina Mercator, contains two docks with 320 berths in the heart of the city. The marina houses the Mercator, a three-mast sailing vessel that portrays Oostende’s maritime history. In the outer port of Oostende is the North Sea Yacht Club, a modern award-winning marina with 120 berths. It is accompanied by the turn-of-the-century Royal Yacht Club Oostende, with 200 berths, located 500 meters from open sea.