The Port of Luderitz, named after a German merchant Adolf Luderitz, is Namibia's second port and was 'discovered' by Europeans in 1487 when the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias arrived on his epic voyage of discovery.
The port was established by German settlers in the 1800s and has had a topsy turvy existence - becoming all but abandoned as a commercial port by the early 1990s and it is only since the new Namport administration took over in 1995 that Luderitz has begun to resurrect itself as the gateway to the south of Namibia. The town bearing the same name also used the opportunity to reinvent itself as a tourist attraction, making good use of the unique German architecture and other colonial attractions. Whilst tourists visiting other parts of Namibia might come to play poker at the country's casinos, or witness the extraordinary wildlife as part of a safari tour, those staying in Luderitz often have a rather different agenda. Many of those who make a trip to this area come to experience the tranquility of this quiet harbour town.
Since 1995 investment has improved harbour facilities and Luderitz now handles modern coastal traffic as well as the needs of the offshore sector, including the diamond mining and fishing industries.
Since Namport took over the administration of Luderitz from South Africa, considerable investment has begun to improve the port and its facilities. This has included dredging the approach channel to the harbour as well as the 198m wide turning basin to -8.15m CD and the water alongside the new quay to -8.75m CD for the first 300m. The length of the entrance channel to the jetty is 708m with a width of 60.9m. The concrete quay has a depth alongside of -6.1m CD.
The largest vessel permitted is 150m, with a draught of 8.15m and a DWT of 5,000t. Larger ships may be handled with the permission of harbour authorities. Port Control operates between the hours of 07.00 and 17.00, with the nearby Diaz Point Lighthouse providing direct communications to the port 24 hours a day. Otherwise the port works Monday to Friday 06.00 to 18.00, Saturday 06.00 to 12.00 - overtime on request.
Luderitz is served by three tug/work boats - the 32t bollard pull tug Onyeti, the 12.4t pull Pelican and the diminutive 9t bollard pull Pelican. The port also has a harbour launch named Egret and three harbour lighters - two for cargo handling and one fitted for slops. Pilotage is compulsory.
Cargo handled at the Port of Luderitz increased dramatically from 1994, when the average number of ship calls was 826 and cargo reached 51,513 tonnes. By 1997 ship calls were 1,253 and tonnage peaked at 102,614t. Cargo landed consisted mainly of fuel and fish products. Exports were predominantly fish products.
Luderitz is linked with the rest of Namibia by rail and road. The port has a main concrete jetty that can accommodate ships of up to 150m. A new quay wall of 500m with a depth alongside of -8.75m CD has been constructed along the eastern shore of Shark Island, enabling Luderitz to meet increasing demand on services. Layby and maintenance facilities are available for smaller craft at the 154m long wooden jetty, with limited water and electrical supply but no cargo handling or heavy cargo is possible on this jetty.
The port handles oil cargoes at the main jetty connecting to a single pipe (gasoil and diesel). There are four bunker points on the concrete jetty. Stevedoring and ship chandling are available.