Port of Waterford
The Port of Waterford is situated several kilometres downstream of Waterford City on the northern side of the Suir river in South County Kilkenny, and is called Belview. This has replaced the old facility in Waterford, located on the quays in the centre of the city. The Belview Terminal can handle container (lo-lo), bulk solid, and break-bulk/general cargoes, while the Great Island Power Station can handle bulk liquid fuels.
Ships can navigate Waterford harbour estuary with the aid of a pilot, as the river is subject to tide, depths and navigation channel according to the following criteria:
- No beam or air draught restrictions.
- Vessels up to 32,000 dwt subject to tide.
- Maximum draught 9.5 metres (31 ft) subject to tide.
- Vessels up to 200 metres (660 ft) subject to tide.
The Belview Terminal can accommodate ships to approximately 200m length (LOA) with a maximum draught of between 8.5m to 9.3m, depending on tides.
Vessels greater than 170 metres (560 ft) LOA are accepted by specific arrangement with the Harbour Master.
The port is operated as a Port Company, under the 1996 Harbours Act and Harbours (Amendment) Act 2009. The nautical jurisdiction extends from Dunmore East and Hook Head on the seaward side and upriver past Waterford City. Vessels going to and from New Ross must navigate to Cheekpoint (Barrow Rail Bridge) from where the New Ross Port Company operates the waters of the confluent rivers of the River Nore and River Barrow.
Waterford’s geographical position means that the harbour has been one of the main gateways to Ireland for people and ideas since prehistoric times. Closer to our time it was the Vikings, those great sailor explorers, who established the port town, Vedrarfjordr, which over time became Waterford. The foundation of the coastal trading towns is the Vikings’ legacy to Ireland. Through Norman and medieval times the port developed and the people of Waterford prospered. The kings of England when they visited Ireland between 1172 and 1399, all landed here. In medieval times Waterford was a cosmopolitan and sophisticated place, its prosperity based on its monopoly of the import and export trade. Wool, hides, grain were exported and iron, salt and wine and luxury goods such as figs, dates and silk were the imports. Waterford dominated much of the trade between Ireland and its nearest European neighbours.
Waterford harbour today remains the nearest major Irish port to mainland Europe, from its location downstream in Belview since moving there in the 1990s. The quays today have been freed up for more leisure activity such as the Tall Ships 2011 event when Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, relived its well-deserved title – Waterford of the Ships.
Waterford Harbour Commissioners was established in 1816. In 1999, the organisation was incorporated as the Port of Waterford Company, and now operates in the commercial semi-state sector in Ireland, reporting to the Department of Transport. Since its foundation, the organisation has played a vital role in the development of the city and the region. The company comprises board of directors, management and staff.
In the 1990s, commercial shipping operations moved to Belview, some 8 km (5 miles) downstream of Waterford City, and closer to the sea.
Recent developments include a major infrastructure upgrade consisting of a 190 metres (210 yd) quay extension in 2008. This will be followed up by further extension to be added incrementally when required