The Port of Novorossiysk is at the head of Tsemes Bay on the Black Sea's northeastern shores in southwest Russia. The Port of Novorossiysk is located about 250 nautical miles northeast of the Port of Batumi in Georgia and about 520 nautical miles across the Black Sea from the Port of Haydarpasa in Istanbul, Turkey. It is one of the few cities in Russia that was honored with the title of Hero City in recognition for its valor during World War II. In 2006, over 230 thousand people lived in the Port of Novorossiysk.
The Port of Novorossiysk is located on the shores of the ice-free Tsemes Bay, long recognized as one of the best bays of the Black Sea. The Port of Novorossiysk is Russia's main port on the Black Sea and is home to a naval base, shipbuilding yards, and an oil-pipeline terminal. The Port of Novorossiysk supports Russian maritime trade through its relations with Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean region, Africa, and South America. It is also the terminus of the pipeline from the rich Tengiz Oil Field in western Kazakhstan, making it the biggest oil port on the Black Sea. In addition to the Port of Novorossiysk, the city is home to many industries producing food products, metal goods, among many others.
An ancient Greek colony, Bata, was located here on the shores of Tsemes Bay. The colony was an important center for the grain trade, and it was mentioned by Greek historians Ptolemy and Strabo in their writings. In the Middle Ages, merchants from the Genoese Ghisolfi family operated a trading outpost on the site of the future Port of Novorossiysk.
In 1722, the Ottoman fortress of Sujuk-Qale (Sogucak) controlled the Bay. As a prize after the Russo-Turkish War, the coastline was turned over to Russia in 1829. In 1845, Tsar Nicholas I decreed the foundation of a port at Novorossiysk. Russian admirals Mikhail Lazarev and Nikolay Raevsky established a base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in 1838. The new Port of Novorossiysk was part of a chain of forts stretching along the Black Sea coastline that protected Russia.
During the 19th Century, the Port of Novorossiysk developed quickly. By 1896, it was the capital of the smallest territory in the Russian Empire, the Black Sea Governate.
Before the world-changing revolution in Russia, most timber exports went through the Ports of Archangelsk and St. Petersburg. After the 1917 revolution, much of the exporting of timber was moved to the southern Port of Novorossiysk.
After World War I and the Russian Revolution, the Port of Novorossiysk was the center for the White Army and the brief Novorossiya Republic. At their defeat, many White Army soldiers escaped to Constantinople from the Port of Novorossiysk.
In 1926, the JSC Exportles company was established, and it soon became the exclusive seller of timber goods exports for Russia. In the early 1930s, a new section with berths and exchange offices was established in the Port of Novorossiysk. Called the "Novorossiysk Port Office Exportles," this addition marked the beginning of the development of "Novorolesexport" and a period of rapid growth. Cargo-handling capacities were expanded, port facilities were improved. The existing timber export facilities were mechanized, the timber export berths were refurbished, and new cargo-handling equipment was acquired. After seven years, the Port of Novorossiysk was handling all timber exports for the southern USSR.
The volume of timber exports had decreased considerably before World War II began, and the port "Exportles" office had been abolished. In 1942, the German Nazi army occupied the Port of Novorossiysk. A small unit of the Soviet navy defended an area in the town known as Malaya Zemlya. They held it for 225 days until the Red Army arrived to liberate the Port of Novorossiysk in late 1943. The sailors' defense of the port ensured that the USSR would control the bay and that the Germans would not be able to use it for shipments of supplies. In 1973, the Port of Novorossiysk was awarded the title of Hero City in recognition of this valiant effort.
In 1945 when the war ended, a new timber transshipment base, "Glavsnab," was established to receive timber goods from Romania. The imports were used for the reconstruction of a badly damaged Soviet Union. In 1945, only 45 people were employed by the Port of Novorossiysk.
Until 1955, timber shipments were mostly oak and beech. In 1956, the Glavsnab base was reorganized into the Novorossiysk Timber Port under the USSR Ministry of the Timber Industry. By the time of this change, the Port of Novorossiysk employed some 500 people. This began an era of development for the Port of Novorossiysk. New lumber-handling equipment was added, and the Port of Novorossiysk was given 28 hectares of swamp land along the Tsemes River to develop. In 1956, the timber cargo volume reached an all-time high of 66.4 thousand cubic meters. In 1957, that volume doubled. To keep up with the rapidly growing cargo volumes, the Port of Novorossiysk expanded existing warehouses.
By the 1970s, timber volumes had increased to one million cubic meters per year. New technologies like containers and advanced timber handling equipment made this increase possible. During that decade, the new timber-handling complex was completed with advanced and powerful cranes and a modern secured warehouse.
In 1992, JSC Novoroslesexport was established as a joint stock company and listed on the stock exchange. Today, the Port of Novorossiysk is a universal port that operates 24 hours a day. It remains the only port in south Russia that specializes in timber transshipments.
In 2003, President Valdimir Putin signed a decree that established a naval base in the Port of Novorossiysk for the Black Sea Fleet. The country committed vast resources to construct the new base, to be completed in 2012, and other base facilities to be built after that.