Port of Singapore

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Port of Singapore
Pelabuhan Singapura
சிங்கப்பூர் துறைமுகம்
Port of Singapore
Click on the map for a fullscreen view
LocationPasir Panjang, Singapore
Coordinates1°15′50″N 103°50′24″E / 1.264°N 103.840°E / 1.264; 103.840
Built1819 (contemporary version)
Operated byPSA International
Jurong Port
Owned byMaritime and Port Authority of Singapore
No. of berths67 (2019)
Street accessAyer Rajah Expressway
Annual TEU37.2 million (2019)[1]

The Port of Singapore is the collection of facilities and terminals that conduct maritime trade and handle Singapore's harbours and shipping. It has been ranked as the top maritime capital of the world, since 2015.[2] Currently the world's second-busiest port in terms of total shipping tonnage, it also transships a fifth[3] of the world's shipping containers, half of the world's annual supply of crude oil, and is the world's busiest transshipment port. It was also the busiest port in terms of total cargo tonnage handled until 2010, when it was surpassed by the Port of Shanghai.

Because of its strategic location, Singapore has been a significant entrepôt and trading post for at least two centuries. During the contemporary era, its ports have not become just a mere economic boon for the country, but an economic necessity because Singapore is lacking in land and natural resources. The port is critical for importing natural resources, and then later re-exporting products after they have been domestically refined and shaped in some manner, for example wafer fabrication or oil refining to generate value added revenue. The Port of Singapore is also the world's largest bunkering port. The majority of ships that pass between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean go through the Singapore Strait. The Straits of Johor on the country's north are impassable for ships due to the Johor-Singapore Causeway, built in 1923, which links the town of Woodlands, Singapore to the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia.


Before 1819[edit]

Xabandaria (the Shahbandar's place) marked in this 1604 map of Singapore by Godinho de Erédia. The map is orientated with the South towards the top left.

In the late 13th century, a Kingdom known as Singapura was established on the north bank of the Singapore River around what was called the Old Harbour. It was the only port in the southern part of the Strait of Malacca and serviced ships and traders in the region, competing with other ports along the coast of the Malacca Strait such as Jambi, Kota Cina, Lambri, Semudra, Palembang, South Kedah and Tamiang. The port had two functions. First, it made available products that were in demand by international markets; according to the Daoyi Zhilüe (Brief Annals of Foreign Islands, 1349)[4] by Chinese trader Wang Dayuan (born 1311, fl. 1328–1339), these included top-quality hornbill casques,[5] lakawood and cotton. Although these goods were also available from other Southeast Asian ports, those from Singapore were unique in terms of their quality. Secondly, Singapore acted as a gateway into the regional and international economic system for its immediate region. South Johor and the Riau Archipelago supplied products to Singapore for export elsewhere, while Singapore was the main source of foreign products to the region. Archaeological artefacts such as ceramics and glassware found in the Riau Archipelago evidence this. In addition, cotton was transshipped from Java or India through Singapore.[6]

In 1984, an archaeological excavation had commenced at Fort Canning Hill led by the archaeologist Dr John Miksic. A range of artefacts including earthenware, ceramic, and porcelain pieces were found which suggests Singapore's role as an active trading port in the 14th century.[7][8]

By the 15th century, Singapore had declined as an international trading port due to the ascendance of the Malacca Sultanate. Local trade continued on the island. A map of Singapore by Portuguese mathematician Manuel Godinho de Eredia showed the location of Xabandaria or the office of a shahbandar, the Malay official responsible for international trade. Shards of 15th-century Siam ceramics and late 16th – or early 17th-century Chinese blue and white porcelain have been found at the Singapore and Kallang Rivers. Singapore also provided other regional ports with local products demanded by international markets. For instance, blackwood (a generic term used by Europeans to refer to rosewood) was exported from Singapore to Malacca, and was in turn purchased by Chinese traders and shipped to China for furniture-making:)

In the early 17th century, Singapore's main settlement and its port were destroyed by a punitive force from Aceh. After this incident, there was no significant settlement or port at Singapore until 1819.


Port at Singapore, ca. 1890

In 1819, Stamford Raffles, a British colonial official, excited by the deep and sheltered waters in Keppel Harbour, established for the British Empire a new settlement and international trading port on the island.[6] Keen to attract Asian and European traders to the new port, Raffles directed that land along the banks of the Singapore River, particularly the south bank, be reclaimed where necessary and allocated to Chinese and English country traders to encourage them to establish a stake in the port-settlement. Chinese traders, because of their frequent commercial interactions with Southeast Asian traders throughout the year, set up their trading houses along the lower reaches of the river, while English country traders, who depended on the annual arrival of trade from India, set up warehouses along the upper reaches. The port relied on three main networks of trade that existed in Southeast Asia at that time: the Chinese network, which linked Southeast Asia with the southern Chinese ports of Fujian and Guangdong; the Southeast Asian network, which linked the islands of the Indonesian archipelago; and the European and Indian Ocean network, which linked Singapore to the markets of Europe and the Indian Ocean littoral. These networks were complementary, and positioned Singapore as the transshipment point of regional and international trade. By the 1830s, Singapore had overtaken Batavia (now Jakarta) as the centre of the Chinese junk trade, and also become the centre of English country trade, in Southeast Asia. This was because Southeast Asian traders preferred the free port of Singapore to other major regional ports which had cumbersome restrictions. Singapore had also supplanted Tanjung Pinang as the export gateway for the gambier and pepper industry of the RiauLingga Archipelago by the 1830s, and South Johor by the 1840s. It had also become the centre of the Teochew trade in marine produce and rice.[6]

As the volume of its maritime trade increased in the 19th century, Singapore became a key port of call for sailing and steam vessels in their passage along Asian sea routes. From the 1840s, Singapore became an important coaling station for steam shipping networks that were beginning to form. Towards the late 19th century, Singapore became a staple port servicing the geographical hinterland of the Malay Peninsula. Following the institution of the British Forward Movement, Singapore became the administrative capital of British Malaya. Roads and railways were developed to transport primary materials such as crude oil, rubber and tin from the Malay Peninsula to Singapore to be processed into staple products, and then shipped to Britain and other international markets. During the colonial period, this was the most important role of the port of Singapore.[6]


Singapore ceased to be part of the British Empire when it merged with Malaysia in 1963. Singapore lost its hinterland and was no longer the administrative or economic capital of the Malay Peninsula. The processing in Singapore of raw materials extracted in the Peninsula was drastically reduced due to the absence of a common market between Singapore and the Peninsular states.[6]

Since Singapore's full independence in 1965, it has had to compete with other ports in the region to attract shipping and trade at its port. It has done so by developing an export-oriented economy based on value-added manufacturing. It obtains raw or partially manufactured products from regional and global markets and exports value-added products back to these markets through market access agreements such as World Trade Organization directives and free trade agreements.[6]

CWPRS had a 20-year contract with Singapore Port, during which it conducted perhaps 55 studies on hydraulic models.[9]

By the 1980s, maritime trading activity had ceased in the vicinity of the Singapore River except in the form of passenger transport, as other terminals and harbours took over this role. Keppel Harbour is now home to three container terminals. Other terminals were built in Jurong and Pasir Panjang as well as in Sembawang in the north. Today, the port operations in Singapore are handled by two players: PSA International (formerly the Port of Singapore Authority) and Jurong Port, which collectively operate six container terminals and three general-purpose terminals around Singapore.

In the 1990s the port became more well-known and overtook Yokohama, and eventually became the busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage.[citation needed]

Singapore is part of the Maritime Silk Road that runs from the Chinese coast to the southern tip of India, to Mombasa, from there through the Red Sea via the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, to the Upper Adriatic region of the northern Italian hub Trieste with its rail connections to Central Europe and the North Sea.[10][11][12][13][14][15]

Since 2022[edit]

The Tuas Mega Port is projected to be the only port in Singapore after the PSA city terminals and Pasir Panjang Terminal are closed in 2027 and 2040 respectively, ending an era of port operations in the city area which began in 1819.[16] The Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM) launched by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) aims to grow the industry's value-add by $4.5 billion and create more than 5,000 new jobs by 2025.

Automation will be a key part of the new port, with over 1,000 battery-powered driverless vehicles and a fleet of almost 1,000 automated yard cranes to be developed for the port. Nelson Quek, PSA Singapore's head of Tuas planning stated that "Tuas, when it's fully developed, is going to be the single largest fully-automated terminal in the world".[16] It will also be able to cater to the demands of the world's largest container ships, with 26 km of deep-water berths. Besides just handling containers, the port will have space set aside for companies to be located, a move that aims to improve the links between port and businesses.[17] It is projected to be twice the size of Ang Mo Kio new town.[16]

Operations at Tuas Mega Port began in September 2021, and the port officially opened on September 1, 2022 with three berths in service.[18][19]

The Pasir Panjang Container Terminal lies to the left and Jurong Port in the background of this panoramic view of the southwestern part of Singapore, showing the southern parts of Queenstown, and Clementi and Jurong.
The Port of Singapore with Sentosa island in the background.


The M.T. Torben Spirit at anchor in Singapore – photographed on 6 September 2005.
Aerial panorama of the Singapore Strait and the Pasir Panjang Port Terminal. Shot in 2016.

The port is the world's busiest port in terms of shipping tonnage handled, with 1.15 billion gross tons (GT) handled in 2005. In terms of cargo tonnage, Singapore is behind Shanghai with 423 million freight tons handled. The port retains its position as the world's busiest hub for transshipment traffic in 2005, and is also the world's biggest bunkering hub, with 25 million tonnes sold in the same year.[20]

Singapore is ranked first globally in 2005 in terms of containerised traffic, with 23.2 million Twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled. High growth in containerised traffic has seen the port overtaking Hong Kong since the first quarter of 2005,[21] and has led the race ever since, with an estimated 19,335 kTEUs handled in the year up to October, compared to 18,640 kTEUs handled in Hong Kong in the same period. A rise in regional traffic consolidating the port's position in Southeast Asia, and increases in transshipment traffic using the strategic East Asia-Europe route via Singapore helped the port to emerge tops at the end of the year, a title it had not held since overtaking Hong Kong once in 1998.

Port of Singapore statistics[1]
Year Vessel Arrival Tonnage
(billion GT)
Container Throughput
(million TEUs)
Cargo Throughput
(million tonnes)
Bunker Sale Volume
(million tonnes)
Tonnage under Singapore Registry of Ships
(million GT)
2014 2.37 33.9 581.3 42.4 82.2
2015 2.50 30.9 575.8 45.2 86.3
2016 2.66 30.9 593.3 48.6 88.0
2017 2.80 33.7 627.7 50.6 88.8
2018 2.79 36.6 630.0 49.8 90.9


Keppel Container Terminal in Singapore

PSA Singapore's container facilities are as follows:

  • Container berths: 52
  • Quay length: 15,500 m
  • Area: 600 hectares
  • Max draft: 16 m
  • Quay cranes: 190
  • Designed capacity: 35,000 kTEU

PSA Singapore has 13 berths which are part of the Pasir Panjang Container Terminal's Phase Two which are due for completion by 2009. Phase Three and Four will add another 16 berths and are expected to be completed by 2013.[22]

Jurong Port's facilities are as follows:

  • Berths: 32
  • Berth length: 5.6 km
  • Maximum vessel draft: 15.7 m
  • Maximum vessel size: 150,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT)
  • Area: 127 Hectares Free Trade Zone, 28 Hectares non-Free Trade Zone
  • Warehouse facilities: 178,000 m2

PSA Singapore also has a 40-year contract to operate the tax-free Gwadar Port on the southwestern coast of Pakistan. Gwadar started operation in March 2008, with 3 multi-purpose berths, a 602-meter quay, and 12.5-meter depth. Another 9 berths are under construction, with a 20-meter depth. In 2015, it was announced that the port would be leased to the Chinese till 2059 and further developed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.


Tanjong Pagar container terminal by night (2009)
Port Operator Type Berths Quay length (m) Quay cranes Area (Ha) Capacity (kTEU)
Brani (BT) PSA[23] Container 8 2,325 26 84  
Cosco-PSA (CPT) Cosco/PSA Container 2 720   22.8 >1,000
Jurong JTC Multi-Purpose 32 5,600   155  
Keppel (KT) PSA Container 14 3,164 27 105  
Pasir Panjang (PPT 1) PSA Container 6 2,145 19 85  
Pasir Panjang (PPT 2) PSA Container 9 2,972 36 139  
Pasir Panjang (PPT 3) PSA Container 8 2,655 31 94  
Pasir Panjang (PPT 4) PSA Container 3 1,264 13 70
Pasir Panjang (PPT 5) PSA Container 6 2,160 24 83  
Pasir Panjang (PPT 6) PSA Container 6 2,251 24 80
Pasir Panjang Automobile Terminal PSA Ro-Ro 3 1,010   25  
Sembawang Wharves PSA General 4 660   28  
Tanjong Pagar (TPT)(decommissioned) PSA Container 7 2,097 0 79.5  
Tuas Megaport(Tuas) PSA Container 3 3  

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Singapore's 2019 Maritime Performance" (Press release).
  2. ^ "Singapore named top maritime capital of the world for 3rd consecutive time". The Straits Times. 26 April 2017.
  3. ^ "PSA Singapore".
  4. ^ See 汪大渊 (Wang Dayuan); 苏继顷 (Su Jiqing) (comp.) (1981). 岛夷志略校释 (Pinyin: Dǎoyí Zhìlüè Jiàoshì) (Brief Annals of Foreign Islands : A Collation and Elucidation). Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju (China Publishing House).
  5. ^ From the Middle French meaning "helmet", a casque is an anatomical structure suggestive of a helmet, such as the horny outgrowth on the head of a cassowary: see "Casque". Merriam–Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Heng, Derek. "Continuities and Changes : Singapore as a Port-City over 700 Years". Biblioasia. 1 (1). Singapore: National Library Board: 12–16. ISSN 0219-8126..
  7. ^ "Archaeological Excavation Site at Fort Canning Park". www.roots.gov.sg. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  8. ^ "Digging Up History: Dr John Miksic". www.roots.gov.sg. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  9. ^ https://cwprs.gov.in/Page/Introduction.aspx
  10. ^ "China's Maritime Silk Road and it's [sic] implications for Singapore & South East Asian Nations". 29 June 2018.
  11. ^ 21st Century Maritime Silk Road
  12. ^ Marcus Hernig: Die Renaissance der Seidenstraße (2018) pp 112.
  13. ^ Wolf D. Hartmann, Wolfgang Maennig, Run Wang: Chinas neue Seidenstraße. (2017) pp 59.
  14. ^ Jiang, Bao; Li, Jian; Gong, Chunxia (2018). "Maritime Shipping and Export Trade on "Maritime Silk Road"". The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics. 34 (2): 83–90. doi:10.1016/j.ajsl.2018.06.005. S2CID 169732441.
  15. ^ The Maritime Silk Road
  16. ^ a b c Heng, Daniel (7 February 2018). "Why Singapore needs Tuas mega port to keep ruling the seas". CNA. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  17. ^ Koh, Fabian (4 October 2019). "Tuas Port set to be world's largest fully automated terminal". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  18. ^ Yong, Clement (1 September 2022). "Tuas mega port officially opens with 3 berths, will be critical engine driving S'pore economy: PM Lee". The Straits Times. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  19. ^ Koh, Wan Ting. "Tuas Port opens officially, will be 'critical engine' driving Singapore's economy: PM Lee". CNA. Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  20. ^ "Singapore remains world's busiest port". China View, Xinhua News Agency. 12 January 2006. Archived from the original on 8 March 2006.
  21. ^ Cher, Derek (21 November 2005). "Singapore port continues to outpace Hong Kong". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2005.
  22. ^ "S'pore to spend $2b on port expansion". AsiaOne News. 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
  23. ^ "OUR BUSINESS: TERMINALS". www.singaporepsa.com. Archived from the original on 14 January 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2020.

Further reading[edit]


  • Sinnappah Arasaratnam (1972). Pre-modern Commerce and Society in Southern Asia : An Inaugural Lecture Delivered at the University of Malaya on December 21, 1971. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya.
  • Borschberg, Peter (2018). “Three questions about maritime Singapore, 16th and 17th Centuries”, Ler História, 72: 31-54. https://journals.openedition.org/lerhistoria/3234
  • Braddell, Roland (1980). A Study of Ancient Times in the Malay Peninsula and the Straits of Malacca and Notes on Ancient Times in Malaya / by Dato Sir Roland Braddell. Notes on the Historical Geography of Malaya / by Dato F.W. Douglas (MBRAS reprints; no. 7). Kuala Lumpur: Printed for the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society by Art Print. Works.
  • Chiang, Hai Ding (1978). A History of Straits Settlements Foreign Trade, 1870–1915 (Memoirs of the National Museum; no. 6). Singapore: National Museum.
  • Hall, Kenneth R. (1985). Maritime Trade and State Development in Early Southeast Asia. Honolulu, Hi.: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-8248-0959-9.
  • Ishii, Yoneo, ed. (1998). The Junk Trade from Southeast Asia : Translations from the Tosen Fusetsu-gaki, 1674–1723. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS); Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National History, Australian National University. ISBN 981-230-022-8.
  • Miksic, John N. (1985). Archaeological Research on the "Forbidden Hill" of Singapore : Excavations at Fort Canning, 1984. Singapore: National Museum. ISBN 9971-917-16-5.
  • Miksic, John N.; Cheryl-Ann Low Mei Gek (gen. eds.) (2004). Early Singapore 1300s–1819 : Evidence in Maps, Text and Artefacts. Singapore: Singapore History Museum. ISBN 981-05-0283-4.
  • Ooi, Giok Ling; Brian J. Shaw (2004). Beyond the Port City : Development and Identity in 21st Century Singapore. Singapore: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-008381-X.
  • Trocki, Carl A. (1979). Prince of Pirates : The Temenggongs and the Development of Johor and Singapore, 1784–1885. Singapore: Singapore University Press. ISBN 9971-69-376-3.

Present day[edit]

  • Yap, Chris (1990). A Port's Story, A Nation's Success. Singapore: Times Editions for Port of Singapore Authority.
  • Ho, David K[im] H[in] (1996). The Seaport Economy: A Study of the Singapore Experience. Singapore: Singapore University Press. ISBN 9971-69-199-X.
  • Singapore Shipping: Past, Present & Future. Singapore: Singapore Shipping Association. 2000.
  • Danam, Jacqueline, ed. (2003). PSA: Full Ahead. Singapore: PSA Corporation. ISBN 981-4068-47-0.

External links[edit]