The Port of Walvis Bay History

The Port of Walvis Bay (“walvis” is the Afrikaans word for “whale”) is Namibia’s largest commercial Port. It is a natural gateway for international trade and is strategically situated in the central coastal region of Namibia, to offer direct access to principal shipping routes.

The Port’s strategic and geographical position has been of special interest to colonial powers since the 18th century; the rich plankton fields and abundant marine life made it a popular hunting ground for North American and European whalers. The Port of Walvis Bay’s history dates back to its “discovery” by the explorer Bartholomeus Diaz in 1487.

The Cape Dutch however only founded it in 1793. In 1840, Great Britain annexed Walvis Bay and a small area surrounding the territory to ensure the safe passage of British ships around the Cape. In 1910, Walvis Bay became part of the Union of South Africa and remained part of South Africa after its establishment as a Republic. It was only after much diplomacy that Walvis Bay finally became reintegrated into Namibia on 1 March 1994, four years after Namibia’s independence.

Today, industrial and commercial activities are the biggest industries in Walvis Bay. The Port receives between 1,500 and 2,500 vessel calls each year and handles about five (5) million tonnes of cargo.

The existing infrastructure, berth 1- 8 serves as a Multi-purpose terminal, berths one (1)  – three (3) formerly known as the container terminal, accommodates container ground slots for 3,875 containers per annum and with the provision for 424 reefer containers.

During the period, 2014 – 2019, Berth nine (9) was constructed in order to cater for cruise tourism, known as dedicated passenger liner berth. Berths ten (10) and eleven (11) were also erected to increase the container handling capacity at the Port of Walvis Bay, up to 750,000 TEUs per annum. The new container terminal boasts the state of the art, four (4) ship to shore gantry cranes, to serve container ships (accommodating vessels with the carrying capacity of 8,500 TEUs. The maximum design capacity of 21,844 ground slots and 1,540 reefer containers.

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