India’s First Transshipment Port: First Mothership Docks At Vizhinjam, Heralds New Maritime Era For Nation

V Bhagya Subhashini

Jul 11, 2024, 04:37 PM | Updated 04:37 PM IST

Vizhinjam International Port, Thiruvananthapuram.
Vizhinjam International Port, Thiruvananthapuram.

In a landmark event for India's maritime history, the first mothership carrying cargo from Xiamen Port in China arrived at the Vizhinjam international seaport, India's first deep-water container transhipment port, on the morning of 11 July.

The Marshall Island-flagged container ship San Fernando, owned by SFL Corporation Ltd., chartered by Maersk (AP Moller Group), Denmark, and managed by Bernhard Schulte Ship Management, Singapore (BSM), reached the coast of Vizhinjam.

The vessel was expertly navigated through the buoyed channel into the calm breakwater area within the port. The ship was turned around before four tugs manoeuvred it to the berth, aligning it with the wharf using mooring ropes. The ship’s bow thruster and main engine power were also utilised during the berthing process.

The ship was honoured with a water salute upon arrival at the port and is scheduled to depart for Colombo on 12 July after an official reception by the Kerala government. The reception will be attended by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, and other dignitaries, reports The Hindu.

The Rs 7,700-crore Vizhinjam port project, a major infrastructure initiative promoted by the Kerala government in partnership with the Adani Group through a public-private partnership (PPP) model, began on 5 December 2015. Initially slated for completion in 2019, the project faced multiple delays. The port's official commissioning is scheduled for December 2024.

Significance Of The Vizhinjam Port Project

Vizhinjam, located about 14 kilometres (km) from Kerala's capital city of Trivandrum, has a natural depth of over 18 metres (m) and is located hardly 10 nautical miles (18 km) from the international shipping route from West Asia, Africa, and Europe to the far eastern regions of the world.

Additionally, the availability of a 20-m contour within 1 nautical mile from the coast, minimal littoral drift along the coast, the natural depth that excludes the need for maintenance dredging, the potential for better roads, and rail transport link potential make Vizhinjam a strategic location well-suited for the greenfield project.

Vizhinjam is envisaged to be an all-weather, multipurpose, deepwater, mechanised, greenfield port that seeks to garner the lion's share of the Indian transhipment cargo, now being handled by nearby foreign ports, and emerge as the future transhipment hub of the country.

V Bhagya Subhashini is a staff writer at Swarajya. She tracks infrastructure developments.

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