Established first in 1900 BC, the Port of Alexandria saw many changes and improvements, including the 1967 establishment of the Alexandria Port Authority (APA). Today's Port of Alexandria handles over three-fourths of Egypt's foreign trade. The El-Dekheila Port is a natural extension to and considered part of the Port of Alexandria. El-Dekheila has ample surface area for future expansions and is located near the iron and steel complex, the Free Zone, the Borg El-Arab Airport, and the West Alexandria Electricity Generator.
Clearly one of the oldest operating ports in the world, Alexander's great engineer, Dinocrat, built the original port when he linked Faros Island to the Port of Alexandria with a three-quarter mile bridge, creating two basins. What is today the eastern port was used for naval purposes, and the western port was used for commerce. The commercial port is today's Port of Alexandria.
The Port of Alexandria contains two harbors separated by a peninsula. The East harbor is too shallow for navigation, and the West harbor is used for commercial shipping and trade. The Port of Alexandria has two navigation channels. The Large Strait is 200 meters long, 220 meters wide and 14 meters deep. The Small Strait is 1600 meters long, 100 meters wide, and 9 meters deep. The entrance to the port, protected by two converging breakwaters, is 400 meters wide. Pilotage is required for all vessels entering or leaving the Port of Alexandria.
The Port of Alexandria covers a total area of 10.2 square kilometers, including 2 square kilometers of land and 8.5 square kilometers of water. The Port of Alexandria has capacity to handle a total of 33.6 million tons of cargo per year, including 19.1 million tons of general, 7.4 million tons of bulk, 7.4 million tons of liquid, and 4.3 million tons and 250 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo. The Port of Alexandria can accommodate vessels with a maximum 150 thousand DWT, maximum length of 213.36 meters, maximum beam of 36.58 meters, and maximum draft of 12.8 meters.
In 2008, 5447 vessels called at the Port of Alexandria, including 1834 general cargo ships, 1505 container vessels, 531 bulk carriers, 320 roll-on/roll-off ships, 247 vehicle carriers, and 81 passenger cruise ships as well as a wide range of other vessel types in much smaller numbers.
The Port of Alexandria consists of six major zones. The first zone, containing berths 5 through 15, is used to handle general cargo. The first zone contains 3.4 thousand square meters of storage yards and 54 thousand square meters of covered storage building.
The second zone in the Port of Alexandria, from berth 16 to berth 28, is devoted to four types of cargo: unified and roll-on/roll-off cargoes, stuffed bulk cargoes, barges, and passengers. The second zone contains 45.6 thousand square meters of yards at Berths 25, 26, and 27.
From berths 35 to 47, Port of Alexandria's the third zone handles general cargo and barges. The Grain Terminal in zone three contains grain silos at Berths 82, 84, and 85 with capacity for 8 thousand, 50 thousand, and 100 thousand tons, respectively. These silos constitute the country's grain reserve.
Berths 50 through 68 in the Port of Alexandria make up the fourth zone that handles containers, coal, cement, fertilizers, general cargo, and barges. Located between berths 71(a) and 85, the fifth zone handles timber, molasses, grains, flour, barges, and some general cargoes. The Alexandria Container Handling Company manages the container terminal. Containing berths 49, 51, 53, and 54, the container terminal covers 16 hectares and has capacity for 230 thousand containers that can expand to 300 thousand using a 5-TEU stacking system. With a working depth of 33 meters, the Coal Terminal, operated by El-Nasr Company, contains Berths 61 through 64 and can accommodate one 3000-ton vessel or two or three smaller vessels. The terminal can receive vessels up to 40 thousand tons when the Bartom method is employed.
The sixth Port of Alexandria zone is the oil dock. Including berths 86 and 87, the zone handles edible oil, oil products, and cattle. Bunkers are located in the sixth zone, and the oil berths are connected to a refinery by a 2-kilometer pipeline. The oil terminal, located at Berth 87, is used for oil, fuel oil, and asphalt and for NAFTA exports.
Located in the first, second, and third zones of the Port of Alexandria, twenty-five berths within the Port of Alexandria, with a total length of 3004 meters and depths from 4 to 11.9 meters, specialize in handling general cargoes. One roll-on/roll-off berth in the second zone is 30 meters long with depths from 8.4 to 9.1 meters.
Four berths in the fourth zone serve the Port of Alexandria container terminal and are a total of 732 meters long with alongside depth of 12.5 meters. Three new Port of Alexandria berths in the fifth zone, totaling 585 meters with depths from 9 to 11 meters, also handle containers.
With a total length of 426 meters and depths from 8.2 to 8.5 meters, three berths in the Port of Alexandria's fourth zone handle fertilizers.
Handling grains and supplies, three berths in the Port of Alexandria's fifth zone total 695 meters and range in depth from 8.5 to 10 meters. Totaling 365 meters in length with depths from 8.4 to 10 meters, four berths in the fourth zone handle coal and serve the coal terminal.
The cattle berth in the sixth zone is 120 meters long with alongside depth of 8.5 meters. Five berths in the sixth zone of the Port of Alexandria serve the petroleum and food oil terminal. They have a total length of 862 meters and depths from 10 to 10.37 meters.
Two military berths in the Port of Alexandria's third zone total 335 meters in length with alongside depth of 12.5 meters. Two repair berths are located in the fourth zone.
Five berths in the second zone handle passengers and serve the Port of Alexandria's tourist terminal. The passenger berths total 805 meters and range in depth from 9.7 to 11.7 meters. The Port of Alexandria's maritime passenger terminal can accommodate the largest passenger ships and ferries. Located in the heart of the Port of Alexandria, the passenger terminal was opened in the 1960s. Today, the Port of Alexandria is reconstructing the aging terminal. The project involves expanding the terminal to cover an area of 15 thousand square meters that, in addition to the passenger reception/departure area, will contain eight thousand square meters of commercial area that will include a free market with a mall, restaurants, and a cafeteria.
The Port of Alexandria intends to become the Great Port of Alexandria and to revive the city's prominent international role by the year 2015. In order to achieve this, several projects will expand and modernize existing facilities and infrastructure. The Port of Alexandria will add 11.3 kilometers of berths, add a new 3.5-kilometer breakwater, and extend dock areas by 290 hectares. Ten new international terminals will be added, two dedicated to containers. New transportation routes will parallel the coast, linking the Port of Alexandria directly to El-Dekheila Port and International Road.
One of the major investment projects involves the construction of a new 337 thousand square meter multi-purpose terminal in the Port of Alexandria with 1450 meters of berths. To be located in the B tourist zone, the terminal will include a marina and a commercial zone of 50 thousand square meters. The project will include development of additional transportation modes, establishing an external river port, and completing the external services zone with an 200 thousand square meters of area.
A second major Port of Alexandria project will involve developing a third container terminal at El-Dekheila with an area of 50 thousand square meters; establishing an 800 thousand square meter petrochemicals basin with 1200 meters of berths; upgrading the grain terminal and expanding its berths by 600 square meters; and upgrading the coal, plate iron, and dry bulk cargo berths.
The Great Port of Alexandria project will establish a middle harbor with five kilometers of roads, railways, and utilities and a 3.6 kilometer breakwater. The new harbor will contain seven integrated terminals. When completed, the Great Port of Alexandria will increase the number of berths by 24% and the total length of berths by 63%. It will increase storage yard areas by 54% and terminal area by 21%.