The Port of Ilyichevsk (also spelled Ilichevsk ) lies on the Ukraine's southwester shores on the Black Sea just 20 kilometers southwest of the Port of Odessa and 16 kilometers northeast of the Port of Belgorod-Dnestronsky. Named after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the city was built around the Port of Ilyichevsk as a new home for the Black Sea Navigation Company. About 33 thousand people live in the Port of Ilyichevsk.
The Port of Ilyichevsk is home to the headquarters and manufacturing plants of "Antarktica," the Ukraine's biggest (and government-owned) fishing company. The Illichivsk Maritime Trade Port, one of the largest ports in Europe, is the largest employer in the Port of Ilyichevsk. While it began as a builders' trailer village, the Port of Ilyichevsk has grown to be Ukraine's richest town, and people from Odessa have been moving to the Port of Ilyichevsk to take advantage of its higher incomes and lower costs.
In 1949, the government of the Soviet Union decided to build a closed shipyard and industrial community on the shores of the Sukhoy Estuary at the mouth of the Dniester River in the Ukraine. Allotting the land in 1950, the new community was named Illichivsk by decree of the Supreme Soviet in 1952.
By 1956, the Black Sea Navigation Company, combined with the increasing development of Soviet foreign trade, led to the construction of cargo-handling facilities to be operated by an independent transport company. In late 1957, the sandbank was dredged to join the Sukhoy Estuary with the Black Sea. By the summer of 1958, the Port of Ilyichevsk contained 336 meters of wharves and six gantry cranes.
The first cargo arrived in August 1958 on the Ukraina, and the Port of Ilyichevsk handled a total of 335 thousand tons of cargo in the remainder of the year. The cargo consisted of coal and building materials.
By 1960, the Port of Ilyichevsk handled 2.6 million tons of cargo, and it was given the status of a Category I independent trade port in 1961. By 1967, cargo volume had increased so much that it received the highest rating for Soviet ports. That year, the Port of Ilyichevsk imported jute, parquet, tea, cotton, peanuts, caustic soda, and clothing. It exported machine tools, equipment, metal products, agricultural and construction machinery, motor vehicles, coal, ore, and mineral fertilizers.
The Port of Ilyichevsk's first container terminal with capacity to handle 120 thousand TEUs per year was constructed in 1976. That year, the Port of Ilyichevsk received recognition for its achievements in the development of foreign trade and the organization of production. In 1978, the Port of Ilyichevsk-Varna ferry station opened with four ferries that could carry 108 railway wagons and carry as much as six million tons of cargo each year.
In 1980, the Port of Ilyichevsk became the first port in the country to have facilities for roll-on/roll-off vessels. It had a 280-meter quay and a warehouse with capacity for five thousand motor vehicles.
In 1987, the Port of Ilyichevsk's inter-port repair station for large-capacity containers was completed. That year, port turnover achieved a record 20 million tons of cargo, and the port became one of the first in the Soviet Union to adopt a new self-supporting self-financing management system. Berths 1 and 2, and adjacent areas, were improved to create a mechanized container terminal with capacity to handle 300 thousand TEUs a year.
In 1996, the Port of Ilyichevsk-Poti ferry line was opened, bringing the Port of Ilyichevsk into the Euro-Asian transport corridor. In 1997, a new grain terminal was added with capacity for 2.5 million tons per year. In 1998, a new mineral terminal was constructed with capacity for 1.3 million tons per year, and its capacity was increased to 2.5 million tons in 2000.
The Volvo service center for truck tractors was opened in late 2000, and a new area for containers and vehicles was added at the Ferry Terminal in 2001. This was the final step in creating an international rail-ferry line between Ukraine and Georgia which has since become an important link in the Euro-Asian transport corridor.
A new berth for liquefied natural gas started operations in late 2001, and in early 2002, the Port of Ilyichevsk opened its second 3.5 kilometer railway entrance to the port. In 2002, construction began on a fat-and-oil industrial complex that became one of Europe's largest such facilities.
The second stage of the Port of Ilyichevsk's grain terminal began operating in 2002, increasing the port's capacity for cereals to over five million tons per year. Later that year, the port's third rail entrance was opened.
In 2003, a new container-contrailer train, the Viking, started operating, opening a new corridor that linked Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania with other Black Sea and Baltic ports. That year, the Port of Ilyichevsk opened a new specialized freight complex to expedite processing of containerized cargoes.
In 2004, the new Port of Ilyichevsk Fuel Terminal started operating, giving the port capacity to handle over 3.2 million tons of petrochemicals per year. Later that year, a new factory for processing and transporting tropical oils was added to the Ilyichevsk Fat-and-Oil Complex. Then in 2005, a new production line for oil-extraction and processing of sunflower seeds was opened, increasing the Port of Ilyichevsk's exports of vegetable oils.
By 2007, the port completed a series of infrastructure improvements that allowed the Port of Ilyichevsk to accommodate transoceanic container vessels up to 294 meters long with capacity for over five thousand TEUs. The improvements allowed the port to establish new regular service routes between Ukraine and Southwest Asia.
In 2008, the Port of Ilyichevsk reached the half-million mark in transshipments of containers, thereby becoming Ukraine's first container port. Also in 2008, the Port of Ilyichevsk celebrated its 50th anniversary, marking amazing achievements for so young a port.