South Africa
2.1.2 South Africa Port of Cape Town

Port Overview

The Port of Cape Town is the premier port for the Western Cape region, providing a wide range of round-the-clock port operations. With a land area of 253 ha and a water area of 9163 ha, the port provides port services to a variety of sectors, including containers, general cargo, fresh produce and fishing (including international operations and exports), as well as the burgeoning offshore oil and gas industry.

Local and international demand for bunkering and ship repair is growing rapidly, and Cape Town has 3 ship repair facilities, one of which includes the largest dry dock in Southern Africa. The port also provides comprehensive marine services: navigation, towage, pilotage, berthing, and pollution control.

Cape Town is positioned as a hub linking the Americas and Europe with Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia. As a result, a large percentage of cargo handled is transhipment cargo for onward transit. South Africa’s growing exports, particularly fresh fruit, perishables and frozen produce, travel to global destinations via the Port of Cape Town. Cargoes fall into four clusters: containers, liquid bulk, dry bulk and break-bulk. The port has facilities and infrastructure for container, multi-purpose and fresh produce terminals.

Port website:

Key port information may also be found at:

Port Location and Contact


Republic of South Africa

Province or District

Western Cape

Nearest Town or City with Distance from Port

Cape Town (0 km)

Port's Complete Name

Port of Cape Town





Managing Company or Port Authority

Transnet National Ports Authority

Management Contact Person

Sipho Nzuza – Port Manager

+27 021 449 2612

Email :

Nearest Airport and Airlines with Frequent International Arrivals/Departures

AIRPORT NAME : Cape Town International Airport (IATA: CPT, ICAO: FACT) 19.5 km from port

LIST OF INTERNATIONAL CARRIERS : Mango Airline (JE), Comair (MN), South African Airways (SAA), Emirates (EK), British Airways (BA), Air Mauritius Airways (MK), Aegean Airlines (A3), Air Botswana (BP), Air Canada (AC), Air France (AF), Air India (AI), Asiana Airlines (OZ), Cemair (5Z), Ethiopian Airlines (ET), Kenyan Airways (KQ).

Port Picture

Image below, displays port layout showing approach channel, depths alongside and berth / quay number / letter naming.

Image below, displays an aerial view of the port showing all ship repair facilities available to port users.

Description and Contacts of Key Companies

Cape Town Services

Working hours: Port Control – For emergencies and handling of ships – 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

Cartage – 24 hours per day.

Breakbulk – 06:00 – 22:00, Monday to Friday.

Containers – 24 hours a day, 362 days per year (not 1 January, 1 May and 25 December).

Office hours - (including Revenue) 08:00 to 16:30 Monday to Friday, not public holidays.

Tankers are restricted to daylight berthing and unberthing. Under certain circumstances, vessels with a double hull will not be subject to these conditions.

Dry dock/ship repair facilities

Transnet National Ports Authority owns and operates two dry docks, a repair quay and a synchrolift.

Robinson Dry Dock

Situated at Victoria Basin, overall docking length 161,2 m, length on bottom = 152,4 m, width at entrance top 20,7 m, maximum width at bottom = 17,2 m, depth over entrance sill HWOST = 7,9 m.

Sturrock Dry Dock

Situated at Duncan Dock, overall docking length 360 m, length on bottom (dock floor) = 350,4 m, width at entrance top = 45,1 m, maximum width at bottom (dock floor) = 38,4 m, depth 14 m, depth over entrance sill HWOST = 13,7 m. A docking length of 369,6 m can be achieved by placing the caisson in the emergency stop at the entrance. The dock can be divided into two compartments of either 132,5 m and 216,1 m or 205,7 m and 142,9 m.

Repair Quay Length: 456 m, landing wall 548 m.

SYNCHROLIFT can handle 1 806 tonnes and vessels up to 61 m in length and 15 m in width. Repair lanes available (length) = 2 x 70 m, 1 x 55 m, 2 x 75 m.

Work is undertaken by private companies and services include, ship repair, engineering, refrigeration, hydraulics, cleaning and painting.


The Port of Cape Town has 61 bunkering points supplying marine fuel oil, gas oil and blended fuels at most berths. Bunker fuels are delivered by pipeline, gas oil is delivered by barge and diesel oil is not available. Joint Bunkering Services is a joint venture between BP South Africa, Caltex Oil, Shell SA and Engen Petroleum. Consumers can choose which oil company they want to supply their fuel while gaining from the economy of scale from the shared distribution system of the JBS.


Chandling services are available from private companies located around the port.

For more information on port contacts, please see the following link: 4.4 Port and Waterways Companies Contact List.

Port Performance

The port of Cape Town remains open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The depth at the entrance channel is -15.9m Chart datum, is -15.4m at the 180m wide entrance into Duncan Dock and -14m at the entrance to Ben Schoeman Dock. The depth in the Duncan Dock varies between -9.9m near the repair quay to -12.4m at the tanker basin. Ben Schoeman Dock varies from -9m to -13.9m. Dredging is carried out regularly to maintain required depths alongside and in the harbour.

Pilotage is compulsory for all vessels with the pilot being taken on board 1.6 miles and 155º off the main breakwater. Pilot transfer is by pilot boat. Navigation is subject to VTS (vessel tracking system) and tug service is provided by four tugs. The harbour and Table Bay are subject to strong winds during the Cape winter (April to September) that can disrupt cargo and ship working in the port.

Seasonal Constraints


Time Frame

Rainy Season


From April to September

Major Import Campaigns


From November to February

Other Comments

During October to March Cape Town is subject to it windy season with the south-easterly bring gale force condition over Cape Town and especially the exposed port area, bringing most container and vessel traffic to a standstill sporadically.

Handling Figures for 2020

Vessel Calls


Container Traffic (TEUs)


Handling Figures Bulk and Break Bulk for 2020

Bulk (MT)


Break bulk (MT)


Discharge Rates and Terminal Handling Charges

For information on port rates and charges, please see the following link:

Berthing Specifications

Type of Berth


Length (m)

Maximum Draft (m)


Conventional Berth


1937 m

12.2 m

Container Berth


1151 m

14.2 m

Silo Berth


Berthing Tugs


40 ton Bullard pull

Water Barges


Quay side supply

General Cargo Handling Berths

Cargo Type

Berth Identification

Imports - Bagged Cargo

Berths : B, C, D, E, F, J

Exports - Bagged Cargo

Berths : B, C, D, E, F, J

Imports and Exports - RoRo


Other Imports

Hydrocarbons, Berths : TB1 & TB2

Port Handling Equipment

Terminal assets within the two main container terminals (CTCT and Multipurpose terminal) are owned by the Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) a state owned company (SOC). Other leased terminals own handling equipment privately. 



Total Quantity and Capacity Available

Comments on Current Condition and Actual Usage

Dockside Crane


8 x 70 MT


Container Gantries




Mobile Cranes


23 x 4 MT , 2 x 5 MT






RoRo Tugmaster (with Trailer)


Grain Elevator with Bagging Machines






Container Facilities

The image above shows the main container terminal know as CTCT (Cape Town Container Terminal). In the foreground is a straddle-carrier operated empty stacking yard with dry container and immediately next it (right foreground) are empty reefer containers in a typical wind-stack formation. Opposite the empty stack reefer towers for cold chain power supply and monitoring are visible. Along the main quay are container ships berthed and STS cranes extended, behind these a further RTG (Rubber Tyred Gantry) stacking yard is visible.

More depots, performing storage, pack/unpack, maintenance and repairs, prepping and other cargo and container related activities are also available within the immediate vicinity of the port terminal.


20 ft

40 ft

Container Facilities Available



Container Freight Station (CFS)



Refrigerated Container Stations



Other Capacity Details



Daily Take Off Capacity (Containers per Day)



Number of Reefer Stations (Connection Points)



Emergency Take-off Capacity



Off take Capacity of Gang Shift (Containers per Shift)



Customs Guidance

Customs and Excise office is located with the port precinct, customs also hold a 24/7 presence within the terminals for ongoing operations. Turnaround times are generally between 3 – 5 days from submission of clearance documents (without any queries). A container X-ray scanner is also located within the port precinct, alongside the reefer gate close to the main container terminal gate, for any container deferred for further assessment, operating from 08:00 to 18:00. Various customs licenced depot are available in close proximity to the port for any such container deemed by customs to be opened for physical examinations. For vessels call the port customs & immigration will advise the Master of the local restrictions on berthing. Penalties are imposed for noncompliance with prescribed regulations.

For more information on customs in South Africa: 1.3 Customs Information. 

Terminal Information

Multipurpose Terminal

With its origins dating as far back as 1947, the Cape Town Multipurpose Terminal (MPT) has been the chosen import and export terminal for a large variety of commodities including fertilizer, soda-ash, soya, sunflower pellets, wheat, maize, cement and containerised cargo. Located in the Duncan Dock area of the harbour and in close proximity to major transport routes, the terminal operates within an area with a quayside length of almost 1.8 kilometers with a current staff complement of approximately 220 persons. Cape Town MPT trades with over 20 countries. 

General cargo is served by the six berths of the Multi-purpose and Combi terminals, which between them handle a wide range of goods – up to 90 commodities on the ports list – from timber to frozen fish.

Grain and Bulk Handling

The average tonnage of all grains imported through the Port of Cape Town that can be expected in a month is approximately 90 000 tons. The maximum tonnage of all grains imported through the Port of Cape Town that can be expected in a month is approximately 180 000 tons. Bagging is generally not available for Cape Town Multipurpose Terminal (MPT), however may be discussed with Fresh Produce Terminal (FPT).

Main Storage Terminal

Limited warehousing (shed) space is available in the terminal as terminals are throughput focused. Fresh Produce Terminal (FPT), a private terminal operator (concession) has some warehousing space on their quayside. Privately held cold storage capacity is also available within the port precinct, to serve the agricultural (eg. fruits, animal proteins) and foodstuffs manufacturing (eg. dairy products) industries, such as CCS Logistics.

Storage Type

Number of Storage Facilities

Area (m2)

Bagged Cargo



Refrigerated Cargo


46,500 MT

General Cargo




The following stevedoring services are offered by Transnet Port Terminals :

  • stowage of cargo
  • lashing and securing of cargo
  • breaking out of cargo
  • planning of cargo to stowage plan
  • operating ships equipment
  • cleaning of hatches and tanks

Other private stevedore services companies are also available with operations in various port locations around South Africa.

Duncan Dock Cold Storage Stevedoring Services provides the clients of the cold storage facility with a one stop service in discharging vessel to the cold store.

Cargo Handling Specialists

5 Carlisle Street, Paarden Eiland,

South Africa, 7405

082 457 9557

(021) 511-9748

Port Stevedoring (PS)

+27 (0) 21 401 8847

South Arm Road, Duncan Dock,

Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town, 8001,

Western Cape

Bidfreight Port Operations

Tel: +27 (0)21 421 3122

Fax: +27 (0)21 421 3136

Alkmaar Road, Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town, 8001, Western Cape


Hinterland Information

From the port strategic channels are provided to facilitate the smooth flow of cargo from the port terminals and vice versa, these include a roadway systems that interlinks with the rest of the country, rail services are also available from the port connecting the major commercial centres in a hub and spoke layout and linking to multimodal transit hubs for further connectivity. The terminal as a seaport gateway holds significant interconnectivity to the rest of South Africa and some of its Sub-Saharan neighbours (Namibia, Botswana, Angola) by means of mainly road network and feeder vessel transport (coastal countries, ie. Namibia & Angola). The port serves as a major export gateway to the agricultural industry servicing areas as far afield as the Northern Cape and Limpopo province, with reserve logistics feasible.

Port Security

There are police, ambulances and fire-fighting services available. Private security companies are available for 24 hour on-board service. Stowaways do pose a problem in Cape Town, however to a small degree, nonetheless, Masters are advised to take the necessary precautions and do stowaway searches before the vessel sails. Firemen are on duty at all tanker and bunker berths whilst vessels are working cargoes/bunkering. Transnet National Port Authority has installed advanced security features such as closed-circuit television for some of its terminals and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) that allow for remote ship identification by port control. The most obvious aspect of this compliance is that it impact access to ports by non-port related users. Many areas previously accessible by the general public such as cargo working terminals and ship repair lay-up quays are now only accessible by authorized personnel. The new Security regulations required the appointment of a Port Security Officer for each port and a Port Facility Security Officer for each terminal. These persons will coordinate security planning, implementation and maintenance between the port authority and port facility operators.


ISPS Compliant


Current ISPS Level
(Level 1 = Normal, Level 2 = Heightened, Level 3 = Exceptional)

Level 1

Police Boats


Fire Engines


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