RMI relies on maritime transport for economic activity, connectivity, and resilience. Sea connectivity, especially for the remote islands and atolls, is vital for access to services and socioeconomic opportunities for citizens. There are two state-owned international civilian ports in Marshal Islands and one military port. There is also a private-owned dock in Majuro, mainly used for the commercial tuna industry. International Ports are located in the capital, Majuro and in Ebeye (Kwajalein Atoll), while the military port is in Kwajalein (also Kwajalein Atoll).
Institutionally, the port and maritime sector concerns primarily (but not only) two government entities: the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) and the RMI Ports Authority (RMIPA). MOTC is the Government’s executive branch responsible for policy, planning and programming and has responsibility for maritime administration / regulation. There is no separate regulatory authority for maritime transport and administrative functions are performed based on specific functions defined by the Cabinet and Minister in various legislation. RMIPA is a separate government entity, created in 2003, and oversees the seaports in Majuro. Kwajalein Atoll Port Authority (KAPA), which is under the Kwajalein Atoll Local government and the Kwajalein Atoll Development Authority (KADA), is responsible for the Ebeye port.
Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) is responsible for policymaking and some regulatory oversight, management, and development of the maritime sector in RMI. Republic of the Marshall Islands Ports Authority (RMIPA) is a state-owned entity responsible for operating RMI’s publicly owned ports at Majuro and Jaluit, as well as all facilities and structures situated within the public ports and airport areas. In addition to operational responsibilities, RMIPA also carries out both regulatory and enforcement functions related to the use of the ports and vessel activities. Majuro Stevedore and Terminal Company (MSTCO) is a private company and the terminal operator at Delap Dock. It is a private company operating under a 10-year concession agreement with RMIPA, which will end in 2023. Kwajalein Atoll Stevedoring Company (KASCO) is a state-owned terminal operator authorised by RMIPA to handle all port activities in Ebeye.
The Uliga Dock is the main domestic port in Majuro and is a key point form which shipment to the outer island occur and is the base for the Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation (MISCO). MISCO is a quasi-public corporation, which has four cargo passenger vessels that provide services to the outer islands. MISCO provides four services per year along a northern, southern, western, and eastern route. The vessels operate from Uliga Dock.
The Port of Majuro is the primary port of the RMI, servicing both import and export trades, as well as internal shipping services. The Port also supports inter-island passenger services within the RMI.
The Port of Majuro has two main facilities, these being Delap Dock and Uliga Dock:
- Delap Dock is the key commercial cargo facility in Majuro Atoll.
- Uliga Dock is used for inter-island passenger services and trading, and the support of small government-owned vessels.
Other port facilities exist in Majuro but these are not owned or managed by the RMIPA. These other facilities include various wharves owned and operated by commercial enterprises such as Pacific International Inc. (PII) and fishing companies. There is also within the lagoon a single point mooring (SPM) owned and operated by Mobil for the transfer of bulk liquid fuel products from tankers to that company’s tank farm at Uliga.
In 2019, World Bank launched a grant in the amount of USD 33.12 million for the Marshall Islands Maritime investment project to be implemented over the following 5 years (expected completion in 2025). The Component 2 of the grant Maritime Safety and Security (est. US$7.65 million) aims to strengthen safety and security of maritime transport and support enhanced climate resilience of maritime facilities for local communities by improving the reliability of connections between Majuro and outer islands for access to food, water, fuel, and emergency response services. Following activities were proposed:
- Quay Wall Structures and Furniture at Delap, Uliga and Ebeye Docks. Repairs and upgrades at existing berths and facilities at Delap Dock, Uliga Dock and Ebeye Matson Container Dock, as informed by the maritime safety and security needs assessment, including:
- Repairs to quay wall structures
- Upgrading or providing new quay furniture, including bollards, fenders, curbs, ladders, as required.
- Compliance with ISPS Requirements at Delap, Uliga and Ebeye Docks. Upgrade or provide fencing, gates, terminal lighting, backup generators, CCTV systems to comply with ISPS requirements at Delap Dock, Uliga Dock, and Ebeye Matson Container Dock.
- Replace/Upgrade AtoNs. Replace or upgrade Aids to Navigation (AtoNs) at Majuro, and Outer Islands, but excluding Ebeye, as identified in the safety and security needs assessment.
- Safety and Security Improvements.
- Provide back-up generators for Delap Dock and Ebeye Matson Container Dock.
- Conduct a needs assessment for a port/container scanner for Delap Dock for security purposes.
- Provide spill kits for Delap Dock, Uliga Dock, and Ebeye Matson Container Dock, and 150-meter boom containment systems for Delap Dock and Ebeye Matson Container Dock.
- Provide SAR equipment and safety devices to RMIPA.