Located strategically on India's southeastern coast, the Port of Chennai is conveniently located near the world's important shipping lanes and a major hub port for the country. Serving Indian commerce for more than a century, the Port of Chennai is the country's third oldest port. Maritime traffic started in the Port of Chennai as long ago as 1639. The first piers were constructed in the 1860s, but storms destroyed them.
An artificial harbor was then built, and Port of Chennai operations began in 1881. In the first two years of service, the Port of Chennai handled about 300 thousand tons of cargo carried aboard 600 ships. By the 1940s, the Port of Chennai contained the West, East, and South Quays as well as warehouses, transit sheds, and marshaling yards. In 1964, the Jawahar Dock was added with berths for six vessels to handle dry bulk cargoes. In 1972, the Bharathi Dock was added to handle petroleum, and mechanized handling of iron ore was added in 1974.
Operated by Chennai Container Terminal Private Limited, the Port of Chennai's first dedicated container terminal opened in 1983. Growth in container traffic was dramatic, and the second terminal was brought capacity for 1.5 million additional TEUs to the Port of Chennai. The latest container terminal, scheduled for opening in 2013, adds capacity for five million TEUs to the Port of Chennai's current capacity for three million TEUs.
The port currently has the capacity to handle 3,000,000 TEUs and with the commissioning of the third mega container terminal being planned, the capacity would go up to 8,000,000 TEUs.
The Port of Chennai has three docks with 24 berths at depths ranging from 12 to 16.5 meters (39.4 to 54.1 feet). The Port of Chennai's long-term plan focuses on the "4 Cs:" containers, cars, cruises, and clean cargo. The master plan for the Port of Chennai calls for realigning the rail and road network, creating a dedicated elevated expressway from the Port of Chennai to Maduravoyal, an outlying township that links the port to the country's highway and rail networks. Future plans also include the construction of a new roll-on/roll-off terminal and a multi-level car parking facility with capacity for five thousand cars. The Port of Chennai's breakwater will be extended to develop a deep-draft oil berth for the largest crude carriers.
The Port of Chennai operates 24 hours a day in wall weather conditions throughout the year. The Port of Chennai boasts high efficiency, with pre-berthing detention of less than one hour, average turnover of just over two days, and berthing on arrival. The Port of Chennai has established the country's first Marine Pollution Management system to protect marine life. The Port of Chennai is also creating additional land area by dredge and fill. Stage I of this work created 7.8 hectares behind the East Quay, and Stage II will create 60 more hectares of space near Gate 1 and the new Chennai Mega Terminal for containers.
In the 2011-2012 shipping season, the Port of Chennai served over two thousand vessels. Of these, there were 789 vessels carrying containers, 524 vessels carrying breakbulk cargoes, 507 carrying liquid bulk, and 223 vessels carrying dry bulk.
In the 2010-2011 shipping season, the Port of Chennai handled almost 61.5 million tons of cargo. Each year, the Port of Chennai handles almost 20 million tons of coal (8 million tons) and iron ore (12 million tons). During the same period, the Port of Chennai's first container terminal handled over 1.5 million TEUs, and the second container terminal handled more than 300 thousand TEUs. The Port of Chennai also handled nearly 234.8 thousand units of car exports.
The Port of Chennai covers a total of 237.5 hectares of land area and almost 170 hectares of water area. The entrance channel to the Port of Chennai is about seven kilometers (4.3 miles) long with a depth of 19.2 meters (63 feet) at the outer channel and 18.6 meters (61 feet) at the inner channel. Channel width is generally 305 meters (1000 feet). The Inner Harbor contains the 1325-meter (4347-foot) Eastern Breakwater and the 575 -meter (1886-foot) Northern Breakwater. The Outer Harbor contains a 590-meter (1936-foot) Eastern Breakwater, a 460-meter (1509-foot) Northern Breakwater, a 1000-meter (3281-foot) Outer Arm, and a 950-meter (3117-foot) Upper Pitch Revetment.
The Port of Chennai contains seven transit/overflow sheds covering a total area of 3.1 hectares, five warehouses covering three hectares, and three container freight stations covering 4.1 hectares. The Port of Chennai also has 38.5 hectares of open space and a 25.1-hectare container parking yard.
The Port of Chennai offers ample cargo-handling equipment. The Port of Chennai has a 150-ton capacity floating crane and three 10-ton capacity mobile cranes. The Port of Chennai also has ten 3-ton diesel forklift trucks and ten high-capacity diesel forklift trucks (three 10-ton, five 15-ton, and two 25-ton). The Port of Chennai has two 3-ton payloaders and 14 diesel electric locomotives. The Coal Conveyor at the Port of Chennai is a semi-mechanized closed system with capacity for 15 million tons per year and capacity to handle 1500 tons per hour.
DP World Chennai operates the Chennai Container Terminal (CCT). The Port of Chennai's first container terminal, the CCT opened in 1983 and was privatized in 2001. In 2010, DP World Chennai won the Lloyd's List Middle East & Subcontinent Award for Best Terminal Operator. The CCT can handle fifth-generation container vessels carrying up to 6400 TEUs. The Port of Chennai's CCT had direct services to China, Europe, West Africa, and the United States, linking international trade to the South India hinterland.
The Port of Chennai's CCT wharf is 885 meters (2903 feet) long and contains four berths with alongside depth of 13.4 meters (44 feet). Located within the city limits, the CCT in the Port of Chennai has limited yard space, resulting previously in unacceptable seven- to eight-day dwell time for containers. Under DP World management, dwell time has been reduced to less than 24 hours.
The CCT includes a Container Freight Station with 1.6 acres of covered area offering services like inspections, LCL de-stuffing, and delivery of imported cargo. The CCT in the Port of Chennai has state-of-the-art infrastructure and offers world-class services. It was the first e-container terminal in India with online services that save time and money for customers.
The total area of the CCT in the Port of Chennai is 21.1 hectares, and the terminal has a 17-hectare yard stacking area and on-site rail service. The Port of Chennai's CCT has total capacity for 12.6 thousand TEUs, 300 reefer plugs, and 51 ground slots. The CCT is equipped with one post-Panamax and seven super-post-Panamax quayside cranes. Yardside equipment in the CCT includes 23 40-ton capacity rubber tyred gantry cranes, one reachstacker, one empty handler, and two five-ton forklifts.
Operated by PSA International, the Chennai International Container Terminals is the Port of Chennai's new container terminal serving the automobile, textiles, pharmaceuticals, leather, light engineering, and chemical manufacturing industries. The Chennai International Container Terminal can accommodate the new generation of deep-draft container vessels, and it is served by seamless rail connection to the Inland Container Depot and South India's hinterland.
The Port of Chennai International Container Terminal covers an area of 35 hectares. It contains three berths with a total length of 832 meters (2730 feet) with alongside depth of 15.5 meters (50.9 feet). This Port of Chennai terminal has capacity for 1.5 million TEUs and 5424 ground slots with 168 reefer points. The terminal is served by twin rail tracks with capacity for 45 flats each.
The Port of Chennai International Container Terminal is equipped with seven twin-lift rail mounted quay cranes and 18 rubber tyred gantry cranes. It also has six reachstackers.
The General Cargo Terminal in the Port of Chennai has eleven berths (four at the West Quay, two at the South Quay, and three at the Jawahar Dock).
The Iron Ore Terminal in the Port of Chennai has capacity for eight million tons per year, and its loading rate is six thousand tons per hour. The terminal can accommodate vessels to 280.4 meters (920 feet) with a maximum 145 thousand DWT. The mechanized ore handling plant is located at the Bharathi Dock II. The facilities at this Port of Chennai terminal include two rotary wagon tipplers, ten lines of conveyors, two rail-mounted stackers, two rail-mounted bucket-wheel reclaimers, and two rail-mounted shiploaders. The facility is equipped with an automatic belt weigher, sampling facilities, a service station, and a self-contained maintenance workshop. The ore stock yard has capacity for 640 thousand tons, and the terminal is served by rail.
Located at the Bharathi Dock, the first oil berth (BD-I) can accommodate tankers to 100 thousand DWT, and the second oil berth (BD-III) can handle tankers to 140 thousand DWT. Both berths can accommodate tankers to 280.4 meters (feet) in length. The oil docks have capacity for 13 million tons per year.
BD-I in the Port of Chennai has five marine loading arms, and BD-III has six marine loading arms. The berths are equipped with separate pipelines for conveying crude oil, white oil product, and furnace oil. The facilities have capacity to pump three thousand tons of crude oil per hour and one thousand tons of petroleum products per hour.
The Port of Chennai has been called the "Detroit of Asia." The Port of Chennai serves many international car makers that include Ford Motors, Nissan, Hyundai, Renault, BMW, and Daimler. Today, the Port of Chennai has India's premier export car terminal, and it attracts global manufacturers that include Toyota, Ford, and Mahindra.
Hyundai Motor India is establishing a dedicated automobile terminal at the Port of Chennai that would export about 300 thousand cars each year, making the Port of Chennai an important export base for Hyundai. Located at the southern end of the container terminal, the new Hyundai terminal in the Port of Chennai will cover one hectare and will include a 300-meter (984-foot) berth with alongside depth of 12 meters (39.4 feet). The new facility will have a six-story dedicated parking yard with capacity for six thousand cars.
The Port of Chennai is one of India's five major cruise destinations. Passenger and tourist services in the Port of Chennai have connected the port for more than a century with similar services in Singapore, Burma, Manila, Malaysia, Aden, Suez, Colombo, and London. The dedicated passenger cruise terminal in the Port of Chennai is located on the West Quay, handling about ten international cruise vessels per year. In the 2009-2010 cruise season, the Port of Chennai's cruise terminal served 3400 passengers. India's first cruise ship, the AMET Majesty set sail from the Port of Chennai in 2011.
The Port of Chennai contains 27.5 kilometers (17.1 miles) of port roads. The Port of Chennai is served by the Chennai Beach railway station of the Southern Railway network. The Port of Chennai has a terminal rail yard and its own railway operations. The two broad-gauge rail lines in the Port of Chennai handle a quarter of the total cargo volume. Two additional rail lines are being constructed to improve connectivity with the container terminals. The Port of Chennai is also connected to the Chennai Petroleum Corporation's Manali refinery by a 30-inch pipeline.
The Port of Chennai-Ennore road connectivity project was started in early 2011. The project includes improvements to the 30.1-kilometer (18.7-mile) road network that connects the Port of Chennai's container freight stations and shore protection measures along the Ennore coast.
The elevated road project is an 18.3-kilometer (11.4-mile), 20-meter (66-foot) wide road to connect the Port of Chennai with Maduravoyal. The project represents India's longest four-way elevated expressway. Starting at the Port of Chennai's Gate 10, the expressway links the Port of Chennai to the Maduravoyal Interchange and the country's vast road network.