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Colombo is the largest port city and capital of Sri Lanka, located on Kelani River's southwestern shores. This is a major cargo terminal (one of the world's largest) with strategic location in Indian Ocean. Colombo is currently ranked world's 23 biggest cargo port and also has one of the world's largest man-made harbors. The seaport is also country's naval base.
From Colombo are exported mainly spices, rubber and tea. This major commercial city also features numerous churches, monuments, museums, fine restaurants and shopping malls. Modern structures and wide avenues contrast with the old Pettah quarter. Notable tourist attractions are the Old Parliament, Presidential residence, Gengarama Temple, Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Temple, Dewiwala Zoo, Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, Pinnawala elephant orphanage. Kandy is a town located by a beautiful lake high up in the hills. Temple of the Tooth preserves the golden relic of Buddha's eye-tooth.
Colombo is Sri Lanka's largest seaport. In the early 1980s it was expanded and modernized with new gantry cranes (serving large container ships) and all terminal facilities were upgraded.
Port's current annual capacity is around 6 million TEUs (containers) and around 31 million tons of cargoes. Colombo Harbour's main channel was deepened to depth (min draft) 15 m / 49 ft, The managing company is "Sri Lanka Ports Authority" (SLPA, established 1980).
The 1 million TEUs mark was in 1996. In 1997 was opened the Oil Berth and traffic reached 1,5 million TEUs. In 1998 and 1999 were inaugurated two new container terminals. In 2000 was opened Peliyagoda Container Freight Station and was started North Pier project's Phase 2. In 2002 was opened Ashraff Quay (multi-purpose terminal). In 2003 were opened Unity Container Terminal and Colombo Port Maritime Museum. In 2004 was reported annual volume of 2,2 million TEUs (increasing to 2,45 million in 2005).
In 2008 started the USD 1,2 billion port expansion project with contractor the Japanese company Hyundai Engineering and Construction. By this project (completed in 2012) were built 4 new cargo terminals (3 berths each, total quay length 1200 m, min draft 18 m / 59 ft, max draft / dredging 23 m / 75 ft)). Colombo Harbour's channel width was expanded to 560 m and its draft to 20 m. Turning basin's diameter is 600 m, with min depth 18 m. This allows the port to handle boxships (container carriers) with max capacity 12,000 TEUs. Breakwater's total length is 6830 m (22410 ft).
The first private terminal was awarded to the consortium China Merchants Holdings-Aitken Spence in September 2010, and was opened in 2013.
Port Colombo's South Asia Gateway Terminal (SAGT, opened in 1999) is leased to an international consortium that includes APM Terminals (Holland-based company) with 33% steak. The container terminal was opened in 1999 as country's first privately-owned terminal. In 2017, the facility reported annual shipping traffic of 1,8 million TEUs, while seaport's total volume was 6,2 million TEUs.
Colombo South Container Terminal (CSCT) has annual capacity 2.4 million TEUs and is joint venture between China Merchants Holdings and Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Its construction started in December 2011 and was completed/opened in August 2013.
In April 2014, the company CICT (Colombo International Container Terminals) started full operations. It manages Colombo South Terminal - South Asia's first deepwater terminal with capacity to handle world's largest boxships. An USD 10 million project was started in 2018 to reduce the environment impact of terminal's cargo operations, By this project, all rubber-tired gantry cranes were replaced from diesel to electric-driven (E-RTGs). Also in 2018 was implemented the "Boat Note" plan to reduced paper use (previously 4 pages per export container on average). The new system is linked directly to Sri Lanka Customs.
In May 2018, the Singapore-headquartered ONE (Ocean Network Express) introduced its EC5 route that also includes Port Colombo. ONE is a container shipping company established in July 2017 as merger between K-Line, MOL and NYK Line. The weekly EC5 service (launched on April 23, 2018) links Asia with East Coast USA-Canada, with call ports Laem Chabang (Thailand), Cai Mep (Vietnam) Singapore, Colombo, Suez Canal, Halifax (NS Canada), USA (NYC, Savannah GA, Norfolk VA, Jacksonville FL), and returns eastbound - Halifax-(Suez Canal) -Jebel Ali-Singapore-Laem Chabang.
Currently, Port Colombo has 3 container terminals - Jaya (managed by Sri Lanka Ports Authority), South Asia Gateway (by John Keells Holdings) and Unity ("Colombo International", by China Merchants Port Holdings). As facilities and equipment, the port offers 4x Feeder Berths (serving small boxships), 7x Container Berths (for large vessels), 14x Quay Cranes, 12x Super-Post Panamax Gantry Cranes, 4x Wall Mount Gantry Cranes, 78x RTGs (rubber-tired gantry cranes) and 285x tractors and trailers.
In 2018, Colombo was ranked first among world's top 30 global seaports with highest container trade growth in 2018-H1 (first half) - 15,6% growth in TEUs. By the end of 2018, the overall growth in transshipment container throughput jumped to 19,5% (total 4,717746 million TEUs - compared to 3,948163 million TEUs in 2017). Also in 2018 was reported a 28,8% increase (over 2017) in cruise ship visits - 45 port calls.
On May 25, 2019, three countries (Sri Lanka, India and Japan) signed a deal to jointly built a deepwater container terminal in Port Colombo. The new East Container Terminal is fully owned by SLPA (Sri Lanka Port Authority) but managed by a joint-venture (Terminal Operations Company) in which Sri Lanka has 51% stake, and 49% are owned by the foreign partners.
Port Colombo cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Colombo, Sri Lanka. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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