The Transnet National Ports Authority (NPA) manages and controls the Port of Cape Town. The NPA addresses changing technology, dealing with global terminal operators, negotiating with international partners, and keeping up with constantly-changing distribution patterns. Each of South Africa’s major ports serves its surrounding hinterland, and the NPA coordinates port activities to take full advantage of each port’s unique capabilities and avoid duplications.
Located on one of the busiest trade routes in the world, the Port of Cape Town holds a position of strategic and economic importance for South Africa. It is a busy container port, a transshipment base for large fishing fleets, and an important repair base for ocean-going vessels. With the oil industry emerging in West Africa, the Port of Cape Town has also become important for its maintenance and repair facilities. The Port of Cape Town is a popular cruise ship destination with convenient and direct worldwide air connections. The Victoria and Albert Waterfront serves small- and medium-sized vessels, while the larger cruise vessels dock in the main harbor.
In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the Port of Cape Town welcomed 3163 vessels carrying a total of 13.4 million tons of cargo. Non-container cargoes passing through the port totaled almost 3 million tons, including 2.6 million tons of bulk and 330.1 thousand tons of breakbulk cargoes. Non-containerized cargoes passing through the Port of Cape Town included 1.9 million tons of imports and 1.0 million tons of exports. Container traffic was about 10.5 million tons in 774.2 thousand TEUs, including 385.5 TEUs of imports and 338.7 TEUs of exports.
The modern Port of Cape Town contains two major docks: the outer Ben Schoeman Dock and the older inner Duncan Dock. The Ben Schoeman Dock is the home of the container terminal, and the Duncan Dock contains the fruit and multi-purpose terminals, the dry dock, repair quay, and tanker basin. The Port of Cape Town also contains a large marina. The original Port of Cape Town, the Victoria and Alfred Basins are not only home to the city’s waterfront. They serve fishing and pleasure boats, smaller commercial boats, and smaller passenger cruise ships.
The Port of Cape Town is open 24 hours a day throughout the year. The entrance channel to the Port of Cape Town’s Duncan Dock is 180 meters wide and from 15.4 to 15.9 meters deep. The entrance to the Ben Schoeman Dock is 14 meters deep. Depths at the Duncan Dock range from 9.9 at the repair quay to 12.4 in the tanker basin, and depths at the Ben Schoeman Dock range from 9 to 13.9 meters. Dredging is in progress at the Port of Cape Town’s Ben Schoeman Dock in order to serve the new generation of container vessels. Pilotage is required for all vessels entering or leaving the port. From April through September, strong winds can disrupt cargo-handling and ships in the port.
The Port of Cape Town contains 34 berths and large ship repair facilities. Sturrock Dry Dock can accommodate vessels up to 369.6 meters long and 45.1 meters wide with a draft of 14 meters. In the Port of Cape Town’s Victoria Basin, the Robinson Dry Dock is 161.2 meters long with alongside depth of 7.9 meters. There are many berths in the Victoria and Alfred Basins that support ship and boat repairs.
The Port of Cape Town’s Container Terminal at the Ben Schoeman Dock has six deep-water berths equipped with a fleet of post-Panamax gantry cranes. The Multi-purpose Terminal at the Duncan Dock handles a variety of cargoes that include fruit, maize, rice, wheat, paper, timber, scrap, coal, and other general cargoes. The Multi-purpose Terminal also serves passenger cruise ships.
The Port of Cape Town’s grain elevator has capacity to store 28 thousand cubic meters, and the Duncan Dock offers a cold store for fish products. The Duncan Dock can serve up to six vessels and discharge three vessels at the same time.
The Port of Cape Town offers several bunkering points where marine fuel oil, gas oil, and blends are available. The port is also served by a bunker barge.