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Top 15 Deepest Seaports in the World

Posted on November 13, 2023

1. Port of Shanghai, China (-17 m)

Specifically, the Port of Shanghai’s Yangshan Deep-Water Port has the deepest draft globally at 17 meters. Situated on Hangzhou Bay, this premier terminal has enabled Shanghai to consolidate its position as the busiest container port worldwide, processing over 43 million TEUs in 2021. Thanks to its unrivalled depth, Yangshan can accommodate the biggest container ships and tankers, cementing Shanghai’s status as a mega-hub for marine transportation. In short, the massive investments in dredging Yangshan to ultra-deep levels have solidified Shanghai’s primacy in global shipping.

Top 20 Seaports with Deep Water Channels in the World

2. Port of Dalian, China (-16 m)

Top 20 Seaports with Deep Water Channels in the World

Located on the Yellow Sea, the Port of Dalian is one of the Deepest Seaports in the World which has channels measuring up to -16 meters deep. Specializing in oil shipments and dry bulk cargo, Dalian has benefitted greatly from these mega-deep channels, allowing it to receive huge VLCCs and dry bulk carriers. This has fueled the port’s rise to become one of the busiest in China and the world.

3. Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands (-16 m)

Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands

The Port of Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte 2 expansion project deepened existing channels and basins to -24 meters. The added depth enabled Rotterdam to retain its position as Europe’s leading container hub and one the deepest seaports in the world, with 14.5 million TEUs handled in 2021. The port also boasts sophisticated automated loading and unloading technologies to maximize efficiency.

4. Port of Antwerp, Belgium (-16 m)

Top 20 Seaports with Deep Water Channels in the World

With the deepening of its Deurganckdock lock to -16 meters, the Port of Antwerp ensures it can continue serving the latest super-sized container ships. Antwerp’s strategic location and integrated rail and inland waterways networks also strengthen its role as Europe’s second-largest container port. Like Rotterdam, it is strategically positioned to maintain excellent connectivity between Europe and the rest of the global economy.

5. Port of Valencia, Spain (-16 m)

Port of Valencia

The Port of Valencia has Depths of -16 meters at its main container terminals and for much of its approach channel. Moreover, Spain’s busiest seaport and Valencia’s deep waters have supported its rise as a leading Mediterranean transshipment hub. Furthermore, with trade flows between Africa, Asia, and Europe increasing, the port is well-placed to continue as a critical link in global maritime supply chains. Overall, the Port of Valencia’s substantial depth enables it to accommodate large container ships and serve as a vital transhipment point.

6. Port of Virginia, USA (-15.5 m)

The Port of Virginia

On the US East Coast, the Port of Virginia stands out for its unrivalled ability to accommodate ultra-large container vessels. Moreover, its 50-foot deep harbour channels serve shipping services reaching Asia, Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Africa. Furthermore, the Port of Virginia’s deep waters, combined with its efficient intermodal transport links, make it a strategic gateway for global trade. Overall, the Port of Virginia’s extraordinary depth enables it to handle the world’s largest container ships.

7. Port of Hamburg, Germany (-15.5 m)

Port of Hamburg, Germany

Germany’s largest seaport, the Port of Hamburg, has invested heavily in dredging its Elbe River approach to -15.5 meters. This enables Asia’s largest container ships to call at Hamburg’s terminals. While cargo volumes were impacted by COVID-19, Hamburg remains a vital European hub, handling approximately 9 million TEUs annually. Hamburg’s deep draft is a key advantage in an increasingly competitive Europe.

8. Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India (-15 m)

Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India

As India’s prime container port, Jawaharlal Nehru Port has undertaken successive dredging to attain a draft of -15 meters on its approach channel and main berths. This depth supports rising cargo volumes and Jawaharlal Nehru Port’s position as India’s main hub for global trade. Located near Mumbai, it handles over half of India’s container throughput. Ongoing infrastructure upgrades will boost its cargo capacity further.

9. Port of Tokyo, Japan (-15 m)

Port of Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese capital’s Port of Tokyo has achieved -15 meter depths at facilities serving its container and liquid bulk terminals. As Japan’s most important trading gateway, the Port of Tokyo is a vital component supporting the nation’s economic activity and global supply chains. While it faces competition from nearby Yokohama and Kobe, the Port of Tokyo’s unparalleled local infrastructure ensures it remains Japan’s busiest container port.

10. Port of New York & New Jersey, USA (-15 m)

Port of New York & New Jersey

Bolstered by the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, the Port of New York & New Jersey now has -15 meter deep navigation channels, allowing ultra-large vessels to access its terminals. Moreover, the East Coast’s largest port, its deep shipping lanes cement its status as a critical import gateway for the region. Furthermore, with its close proximity to the massive population centre of New York City, the port will remain indispensable for regional trade. Overall, the port’s substantial depth and strategic location position it as a vital East Coast import hub.

11. Port of Los Angeles, USA (-15 m)

The USA’s largest container port, the Port of Los Angeles has spent many years dredging its channels to -53 feet (-15 meters). This enables it to accommodate the world’s largest container vessels, cementing its position as a vital trade gateway between the United States and Asia. With further upgrades to terminal infrastructure, Los Angeles will remain essential to handling America’s containerized imports.

12. Port of Santos, Brazil (-15 m)

Port of Santos, Brazil

In response to Brazil’s fast-growing trade flows, the Port of Santos has deepened its main approach channel and port areas to -15 meters. Moreover, as Brazil’s busiest container port accounting for over a quarter of the nation’s foreign trade, Santos’s infrastructure upgrades have boosted efficiency and capacity. Furthermore, Santos will play a key role as Brazil continues emerging as a global economic power. Overall, the Port of Santos’ substantial depth positions it to handle rising Brazilian trade volumes.

13. Port Hedland, Australia (-15 m)

Port Hedland

As the world’s largest bulk export port, Port Hedland in northwest Australia has developed substantial offshore and onshore facilities to handle 500,000 DWT bulk carriers. Moreover, channels as deep as -15 meters connect the port to the Indian Ocean, allowing for rapid shipment of iron ore and other commodities fueling Asia’s growth. Furthermore, Port Hedland is integral to Australia’s massive mining industry. Overall, Port Hedland’s considerable depth and infrastructure enable it to efficiently export enormous volumes of commodities.

14. Port of Gdansk, Poland (-15 m)


As one of the Deepest Seaports in the World, Poland’s Port of Gdansk Bay boasts deep water containers and bulk terminals on the mainland and Port Północny peninsula. With channels dredged to -15 meters, it can serve the largest vessels and will see cargo volumes rise as it attracts more Asia-Europe traffic. Gdansk is positioning itself as a strategic hub for regional Baltic trade.

15. Port of Georgia, USA (-15 m)

Port of Georgia

Having completed its Harbor Deepening Project in 2021, Georgia’s Port of Savannah now boasts a record -15 meter depth. This enables it to accommodate fully laden neo-Panamax ships with up to 14,000 TEUs capacity. As the USA’s fastest growing container port, Savannah’s enhanced infrastructure poises it for further growth as a gateway for global trade in the Southeastern US.


The 15 Deepest Seaports in the World discussed here hold key advantages in efficiently handling surging cargo volumes and ever-larger vessels. Their substantial dredging projects, though costly, are strategic investments that will cement their status as dominant gateways for global trade.

As shipping lines continue deploying mega-ships, these ultra-deep harbours like Shanghai and Rotterdam are best positioned to excel. Their unrivalled ability to accommodate the largest freighters will maintain their competitive edge into the future. With their deep drafts capturing growing maritime commerce, the leading ports are set to leverage their depth to expand cargo capacity.

In summary, the tremendous effort and expense to deepen ports is well worth it for these global hubs. Their infrastructure will ensure their primacy as critical centres of worldwide maritime trade for decades to come.




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