Bangladesh’s Chittagong port is set to operate large container vessels, featuring a draught of 10m and length of 200m, from early this year.

Enhancement of the port’s berthing capabilities will increase its container handling capacity as well as minimise transport costs and turnaround times at the port, according to Chittagong Port Authority secretary Omar Faruq, reported The Business Standard.

Faruq stated that 10m draught ships will reach the port’s jetty in the first half of the year and that the port will soon inform local and international shipping firms of the ability to deploy larger vessels on the route.

The development comes after UK-based consultancy company HR Wallingford carried out a year-long survey in the port channel and Karnaphuli river.

In its final report submitted to the port authority, the firm stated that Chattogram port’s existing infrastructure has the ability to berth vessels with 10m draught or more after performing additional dredging work.

At present, the port’s jetty can accommodate vessels with a 9.5m draught and length of 190m.

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These vessels are designed to transport 2,500 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) to 2,600TEU containers.

Larger vessels with a 10m draught can carry between 3,800 and 4,000 containers to the Chittagong port. This will increase the port’s container handling capability by 1,000TEU to 1,100TEU on each ship and reduce cargo handling operation costs.

Currently, Chittagong port handles 9.5m draught ships from ports that include those in Singapore and China, as well as Klang and Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia, and Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Chittagong Port Authority chief hydrographer Arifur Rahman stated that considering the report from HR Wallingford, the port will soon begin a trial run of larger vessels.

Once the trial is completed, global shipping firms will be notified that they can send bigger vessels to the port.

Rahman added that some of the port’s existing 18 jetties will be able to house larger vessels. The Newmooring Container Terminal (NCT) and Chittagong Container Terminal (CCT) will be able to operate 10m draught vessels.