The Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) is the port authority for Honolulu Harbor. The Department of Transportation seeks to provide an efficient, accessible, safe, and inter-modal system to both ensure the mobility of goods and people and enhance quality of life and economic prosperity. To this end, the department is responsible for planning and designing, building and maintaining, and operating State transportation facilities and infrastructure and for coordinating with other agencies in these activities.
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The Hawaii DOT was formed soon after statehood. It contains three divisions focused on modal transportation (harbors, airports, and highways). The DOT currently maintains ten commercial harbors including Honolulu Harbor, 11 commercial service airports, four general aviation airports, and 3943 kilometers (2450 miles) of highways.
Since the first Polynesian travelers landed on the Hawaiian Islands about 750 AD, the sea has been a major factor in the islands' growth and development. After Captain James Cook arrived there in 1778, sugar plantations, the whaling industry, and tourism have been important to the State and Honolulu Harbor economies. Private landings and piers eventually became Port Hawai'i, and rapid growth ensued. Modern Port Hawai'i includes ten commercial harbors on six islands: O'ahu, Maui, Kaua'i, Moloka'i, Lana'i, and the "Big Island" of Hawai'i.
What had been a sleepy fishing village became Honolulu Harbor. Honolulu Harbor fishing boats were replaced by huge cargo vessels. Today, Honolulu Harbor is busy with container ships and tankers that move in and out of the port 24 hours a day carrying household goods, groceries, sugar, pineapple, molasses, grain, sand, and cinders. Tugs and ocean-going barges carry cargo between Honolulu Harbor and the islands.
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Honolulu Harbor is the hub of Port Hawai'i from which cargo is distributed throughout the islands. Coral growth and fresh water from the Nu'uanu Stream form the natural Honolulu Harbor. The first wharf in Honolulu Harbor was the hull of a sunken ship floated to Nu'uanu Avenue and used for eight years as a docking structure.
Today, Honolulu Harbor is one of the busiest container ports in the United States, and it is the main shipping link between the State and the continental United States, the Far East, and the Pacific Rim. Honolulu Harbor's natural harbor has been improved and is well-protected from surges and wind. Most of Hawaii's containerized cargo arrives at Honolulu Harbor to be distributed to the rest of the State. Honolulu Harbor handles dry bulk breakbulk, neo-bulk, and liquid bulk cargoes as well as vessels for passengers, excursions, fishing, and research. Located just five kilometers (three miles) from Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu International Airport augments Port Hawaii's shipping services and enhances the port's inter-modal services.
According to the US Army Corps of Engineers' Navigation Center Data reports, Honolulu Harbor served 8013 commercial vessels in 2011, including 4431 incoming vessels and 3582 outgoing vessels. In 2011, Honolulu Harbor handled a total of almost 12.7 million tons of cargo including nearly 1.1 million tons of foreign trade and over 11.6 million tons of domestic cargo. Of that total, over 7.0 million tons of cargo arrived at Honolulu Harbor, and more than 5.6 million tons of cargo departed Honolulu Harbor.
The largest single category of cargo moving through Honolulu Harbor in 2011 was manufactured equipment and machinery (over 9.1 million tons). Other major categories of cargo moving through Honolulu Harbor included food and farm products (more than 1.5 million tons) and petroleum and petroleum products (almost 1.1 million tons). Petroleum and petroleum products (699.5 thousand tons) accounted for the majority of foreign cargoes in Honolulu Harbor, and food and farm products (over 1.1 million tons) accounted for most domestic cargo.
Among other cargo categories, Honolulu Harbor also handled primary manufactured goods (326.2 thousand tons); chemicals and related products (196.8 thousand tons); forest products, wood, and wood chips (190.8 thousand tons); non-ferrous metal products (118.4 thousand tons); and paper products (109.3 thousand tons).
In 2011, Honolulu Harbor handled a total of almost 746 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo, including over 17.6 thousand TEUs in foreign trade and more than 464.1 thousand TEUs of domestic cargo. The State reported that, in 2009, almost 390.3 thousand passengers arrived and 388.3 thousand departed Honolulu Harbor on cruise ships.
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Honolulu Harbor contains more than 30 berth facilities at more than eight kilometers (five miles) of mooring space with a depth of 12.2 meters (40 feet). Honolulu Harbor is divided into five areas: the Main Channel, the Main Basin, the Kapalama Channel, the Kapalama Basin, and the Kalihi Channel.
Called Fort Armstrong Channel, the 13.7-meter (45-foot) deep main channel is the entry and exit port for Honolulu Harbor. Due to space limitations, anchorage is not allowed inside the harbor. Rather, Honolulu Harbor anchorage for deep-draft vessels is provided on both sides of the underwater sewer outfall. Tidal range in Honolulu Harbor averages 0.6 meters (1.9 feet), but the highest tide on record was 0.9 meters (3.1 feet) and the lowest was -0.4 meters (-1.15 feet).
Piers 36 through 38 are home to Honolulu Harbor's Domestic Fishing Village. Each of the piers serves commercial fishing vessels. Pier 36 serves commercial fishing boats. It has berthing distance of 166.4 and 121.9 meters (546 and 400 feet) with alongside depth of 10.7 meters (35 feet). Pier 37 serves commercial fishing vessels and is the site of fish auctions in Honolulu Harbor. Pier 37 has berthing distance of 124.4 meters (408 feet) with alongside depth of 3.0 meters (10 feet). Pier 38 serves commercial fishing boats and a propane barge. The Honolulu Harbor fishing boat station has berthing distance of 178.9 meters (587 feet) with alongside depth of 6.1 meters (20 feet). The propane barge station has berthing distance of 18.9 meters (62 feet) with alongside depth of 7.6 meters (25 feet).
Foreign Trade Zone No. 9 is located in Honolulu Harbor at Pier 2. Operated by the State, the Pier 2 facility is open to any business importing or exporting merchandise through Port Hawai'i. Honolulu Harbor Customers can rent warehouse storage by the month and warehouse equipment and labor by the hour at the Pier 2 warehouse. They can also rent warehouse space in Honolulu Harbor's Free Trade Zone for assembling, manipulating, or manufacturing merchandise. Exhibit and office space are also available in the Free Trade Zone. Honolulu Harbor's Pier 2 facility is about nine kilometers (5.5 miles) from Honolulu International Airport.
Honolulu Harbor's Pier 1, or Fort Armstrong, specializes in handling foreign containers and neo-bulk cargoes. Pier 1 has berthing distance of 358.1 meters (1175 feet) with alongside depth of 12.2 meters (40 feet). There is a 2.6-acre storage shed and a 20.1-acre open yard at Pier 1 in Honolulu Harbor. Containers are also handled at Honolulu Harbor's Piers 39 through 45. Pier 42 is the site for the container freight station, and it has two berths with berthing distance of 64.0 and 91.4 meters (210 and 300 feet) and alongside depths from 6.7 to 10.4 meters (22 to 34 feet).
Honolulu Harbor's Pier 39 has seven berthing stations totaling 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) in length with alongside depth of 9.1 meters (30 feet) that handle containers, breakbulk, and roll-on/roll-off cargoes as well as support barges and tugboats. There is a 2.3-acre storage shed and a 6.5-hectare open yard at Honolulu Harbor's Pier 39. Berths 39A, B, D, and E each have berthing distance of 156.47 meters (513 feet). Berth 39-1A has berthing distance of 97.5 meters (320 feet). Berth 39F has berthing distance of 76.2 meters (250 feet), and Berth 39C has berthing distance of 30.5 meters (100 feet).
Pier 40 in Honolulu Harbor also handles containerized, breakbulk, and roll-on/roll-off cargoes at six berthing stations that are a total of 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) long with alongside depth of 9.1 meters (30 feet). Berthing stations A through F at Honolulu Harbor's Pier 40 are served by a 1.5-acre storage shed and a 4.4-hectare open yard. Stations A and E have berthing distance of 152.4 meters (500 feet). Berths B and D have berthing distance of 153.9 meters (505 feet). Berth C has berthing distance of 76.2 meters (250 feet), and Berth F has berthing distance of 51.8 meters (170 feet).
In May 2012, Honolulu Harbor celebrated the completion of its Pier 29 Container Yard Reconstruction Project to address structural failures that occurred in 2008. It was the first harbor project in the United States to receive federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant funding. This Honolulu Harbor project restored and upgraded about 12 acres of cargo space with reconstructed concrete pavement and new systems for drainage, lighting, water, sewer, fire protection, and electric service. The project added space for container ships and commerce at Honolulu Harbor's Pier 29.
About 80% of the State's goods are imported, and almost all of those imports come through Hawaii's commercial harbor system. The Hawaii DOT Harbors Division has proposed to redevelop the Kapalama Military Reservation to add a new container terminal at Honolulu Harbor. The Harbor Division intends to provide new ship berthing and container storage space and to increase Honolulu Harbor's terminal capacity for overseas containers. This Honolulu Harbor project will involve dredge and fill and new construction of piers to support container terminal operations, to increase handling/transportation efficiencies for overland and inter-island distribution; and to decrease the risks related to the sometimes difficult-to-reach Sand Island terminals, thereby improving links between Honolulu Harbor's overseas cargo, consumers, and inter-island distributors.
Piers 31 through 35 in Honolulu Harbor, all of which have alongside depth of 10.7 meters (35 feet), handle general cargo, dry bulk, and roll-on/roll-off cargo. Specializing in general cargo, Piers 31 and 31A have total berthing distance of 236.2 meters (775 feet), and this Honolulu Harbor pier has a 1.7-acre storage shed and an 809 square meter (8.7 thousand square foot) open yard. Honolulu Harbor's Pier 32 specializes in bunkering, pipelines, and general and roll-on/roll-off cargo. Pier 32 has berthing distance of 121.9 meters (400 feet), a 2.3-acre shed, and a 3.3-acre open yard.
Honolulu Harbor's Pier 33 specializes in general, dry bulk, and roll-on/roll-off cargo. Pier 33 has berthing distance of 99.1 meters (325 feet), a 1.5-acre shed, and a 4.1-acre open yard. Pier 34 is used for bunkering, pipelines, and general cargo. This Honolulu Harbor pier has berthing distance of 166.1 meters (545 feet) and a two-acre open yard. Used to support the oil spill response vessel and to handle general cargo, Pier 35 has berthing distance of 214.9 meters (705 feet) and a 1.9-acre open yard.
Honolulu Harbor's Piers 19 through 29 handle general and roll-on/roll-off cargoes, barges, tugboats, cruise ships, water taxis, and barges. These Honolulu Harbor piers have total berthing distance of more than meters 1828 meters (6000 feet), and 80% of the berthing space has alongside depths from 9.1 to 10.4 meters (30 to 34 feet). Pier 19 serves cruise ships and ferries as well as general cargo, barges, and tugboats. There is a two-acre storage shed at Pier 19. Honolulu Harbor's Pier 20 also handles cruise ships as well as general cargo.
There are 26.3 acres of yards distributed among Honolulu Harbor's Piers 19 through 29. Pier 23, which handles grain shipments and stores grain, has a 2.9-acre yard. Other large Honolulu Harbor yards are located at Piers 20 (3.0 acres), 24 (3.4 acres), 26 (3.9 acres), and 27 (2.4 acres). There is a 7.8-acre yard at Pier 29, where roll-on/roll-off cargoes are handled.
Honolulu Harbor's Kewalo Basin Annex serves commercial fishing boats, pilot boats, tugboats, and the Harbor Fireboat. Including Piers 12 through 18, the facilities also include space for offices and parking, a loading dock, and sheds for storage and repair. These Honolulu Harbor piers have total berthing distance of 975.1 meters (3140 feet) with alongside depths from 3.7 to 10.7 meters (12 to 35 feet). A shed located at Pier 13 covers 1284 square meters (13.8 thousand square feet), and a shed of the same size is at Pier 14. A shed area at Honolulu Harbor's Pier 15 covers 510.8 square meters (5498 square feet), and there is a 0.4-acre open yard at Pier 15. Piers 36 through 38 in Honolulu Harbor are home to the Domestic Commercial Fishing Village and fish actions and provide berthing for commercial fishing boats.
Located at Honolulu Harbor's Sand Island, Piers 51 through 53 handle domestic containers and automobiles. The Sand Island piers have a total length of 9.9 kilometers (6.1 miles). Honolulu Harbor's Pier 51A also handles roll-on/roll-off cargoes and petroleum. It has berthing distance of 207.3 meters (680 feet) with alongside depth of 11.3 meters (37 feet) and a 26.3-acre open yard.
Pier 51B has berthing distance of 169.5 meters (556 feet) with alongside depth of 11.3 meters (37 feet), and it has a 31.1-acre open yard. Berth 51C and Piers 52 and 53 have alongside depth of 12.2 meters (40 feet). Berth 51C has berthing distance of 206.3 meters (677 feet) and an 11.9-acre open yard. Honolulu Harbor's Pier 52 has berthing distance of 243.8 meters (800 feet), a 1.2-acre storage shed, and 12.7-hectare open yard. Pier 54 has berthing distance of 353.6 meters (1160 feet), a 1.2-acre storage shed, and a 15.1-hectare open yard.
Honolulu Harbor Aloha Tower Market Place Complex, Piers 5 through 11, has over 914 meters (3000 feet) of berthing space with drafts from 4.6 to 10.4 meters (15 to 34 feet) dedicated to passenger traffic. Pier 10 is home to the cruise ship terminal and vehicle parking space. This Honolulu Harbor pier has berthing distance of 153.0 meters (502 feet) with alongside depth of 10.4 meters (34 feet). Pier 11 also serves cruise ships, and it is home to the Harbors Division Administrative Office. Honolulu Harbor's Pier 11 has berthing distance of 143.9 meters (472 feet) with alongside depth of 10.4 meters (34 feet).
With total berthing distance of 110.6 meters (363 feet) and alongside depth of 4.6 meters (15 feet), Honolulu Harbor's Piers 5 and 6 serve small passenger vessels. Pier 6 also has space for parking. Pier 7 has total berthing distance of 216.4 meters (710 feet) with alongside depth of 9.1 meters (30 feet), and it is home to the Falls of Clyde and the Hawaii Maritime Center.
Honolulu Harbor's Pier 8 has berthing distance of 183.5 meters (602 feet) with alongside depth of 10.4 meters (34 feet), and it has retail space in addition to serving small passenger vessels. Pier 9 in Honolulu Harbor's Aloha Tower Market Place Complex has retail space and serves a variety of miscellaneous vessels. Pier 9 has berthing distance of 191.7 meters (629 feet) with alongside depth of 10.1 meters (33 feet).
Pier 2 at Honolulu Harbor's Fort Armstrong is home to a cruise ship terminal and Foreign Trade Zone No. 9. It also handles neo-bulk cargoes. Pier 2 has berthing distance of 563.9 meters (1850 feet) with alongside depth of 10.7 meters (35 feet). There is a 1.6-hectare storage shed and a 3.6-hectare open yard at Pier 2.
In June 2012, the DOT's Harbors Division celebrated completion of Honolulu Harbor's Pier 2 Passenger Terminal Enhancement Project. The six-part project started in 2010 with goals of improving traffic circulation and interior aesthetics at the existing terminal. This Honolulu Harbor project included new wall finishes, carpeting, artwork, and signage designed to improve visitor's experience at the terminal. The new design highlights Hawaii's cultural heritage by following a theme of "he moku he wa'a; he wa'a he moku" ("an island is a canoe; a canoe is an island").
Pier 41 is Honolulu Harbor's dry dock and ship repair facility. It has berthing distance of 274.3 meters (900 feet) with alongside depths from 6.7 to 10.4 meters (22 to 34 feet).