ADEN - YEMEN  12th Port of Call - SUNSHINE ROUTE






Aden - an ancient trading centre

The Republic of Yemen, at the south-west corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has traded by land and sea since ancient times. Mid-way between Europe and the Far East, Aden lies on a major world trading route through the Suez Canal. It is one of the largest natural harbours in the world with an area of about 70 km2 of sheltered water surrounded by Jebel Shamsan, Khormaksar, and the shore which extends to the hills of Little Aden. The Port of Aden consists of the Inner Harbour, the Oil Harbour serving Aden Refinery and the anchorage and approach channels of he Outer harbour.




 Map showing Aden



The City of Aden draws its vitality from the Port of Aden. The story of Aden as a trading centre stretches back over 3000 years. Marco Polo and Ibn Batuta visited it in the 11th and 12th Centuries. In the 1800's, Aden grew as ship fuelling port, holding stocks of coal and water supplies for the early steamers. Port services expanded after the Suez Canal opened in 1869 as Aden grew to become one of the busiest ship bunkering and tax-free-shopping and trading ports in the world by the 1950's. Barges took cargo between ships berthed in the Inner Harbour and the wharves. Coastal vessels and dhows carried cargoes to and from regional ports.


In the 1970's, with the Suez Canal closed until 1975, Aden declined under intense competition from new ports in the region and changes in the patterns of trade. New quays were urgently needed at Aden to serve modern cargo demands. These were built at the end of the 1980's at the "Ma'alla Terminal". After over 150 years of commercial activity, Aden finally had the capacity and equipment to handle all types of dry cargo at deep alongside berths served by modern container cranes.




Unity in 1990 formed a nation of some 15 million people with the benefits of growing oil production and large gas reserves. Significant and positive changes in the country are leading to rapid privatization, higher investment and growing manufacturing output to meet national and overseas demand. The advantages of Aden for container transhipment have been recognized and throughput at the Ma'alla Terminal has grown from less than 10,000 TEU's in 1994 to over 100,000 in 1998/99.


Aden is recognized as a national resource with great potential, described as "Yemen's Gateway to the World". To handle the world's largest container vessels, the Aden Container Terminal (ACT) at the North Shore of Aden's Inner Harbour was designed and built. This facility was commissioned in March 1999 and provides the port with world-class container handling facilities. 

The Aden Container Terminal has two container berths, each 350 meters in length, depth 16.0 m alongside. The berths are equipped with four 40 tones capacity (under the spreader) Reggiani super post-Panamax shore gantry cranes (1999), with a 52 meters outreach from the quay wall.  


 The container yard covers a total area of 35 hectares, and has 2500 x 20 foot ground slots with a storage capacity of 10,000 TEU (four high). Eight 40 tones Fels Cranes RTG's (1999), 4+1 high, 6+1 wide, and 2 reach stackers handle containers in the yard. 22 tractor units and 45 trailers move containers from the quay to the yard. 

The yard has 252 reefer container power points. A 97 m x 48 m CFS and multi-county consolidation shed, with office space, is located to the rear of the container yard, together with terminal offices, independent power station (14 MW), desalination plant, workshops and waste treatment plant. The ACT operates a fleet of service, maintenance and emergency vehicles.



Oil harbour

Aden Refinery Company (ARC) had an annual production of refined products of around 4.6 million tones in 1998.   Oil products are used in Yemen and also exported by tanker.  



Berth No.

Depth (m)




‘T’ jetty. For tankers up to 85000 DWT, LOA 260 m - for loading refined products.   Dredged in 1993.



‘T’ jetty. For tankers up to 65000 DWT, LOA 180 m - for loading refined products.   Dredged in 1987.



Pier berth. For tankers up to 65000 DWT, LOA 235 m - for loading refined products.    Dredged in 1987.



Pier berth.   For tankers up to 110000 DWT, LOA 286 m - for discharging crude oil and loading refined products.   Dredged in 1989.


Tankers discharging/loading at Berths 1-4 (only) are allowed to bunker alongside.



For LPG, dry cargoes, heavy lifts and import/export cargoes (liquid and dry) in containers shipped to or from the Refinery. LPG quay length 120 m, dry cargo quay length 220 m, for ships up to 150 m in length berthing alongside.   Turning basin width off the berths is 250 m, dredged to 11.0 m in 1993.   Tankers of up to 25,000 TDW and dry cargo vessels of up to 15,000 GRT use these berths.




RoRo berth

Little Aden Oil Harbour. One RoRo berth, ramp width 20 m, located on the NE corner of the dry cargo berth, depth 11.0 meters. Ships moor stern to this berth, with a distance of 200 meters from the face of the berth to the closest point of the 11.0 metre dredged area.




Lat 12° 47’N      Long 044° 58’E     Time Zone GMT +3



Port limits

All the sea area north of a line from Round Island to a position 12.5 cables on a bearing 198° from Round Island to Latitude 12° 44.0’N, 45° 00’E, thence 6.3 nm on a bearing of 267° to Ras Abu Qiyamah.  

Sea buoys, fairways and channels


The Aden and Little Aden peninsulas are very prominent, with the harbour between them.   Approaching from the W, pass 1 nm south of Little Aden Peninsula and then to the entrance to the dredged channel at 12° 44.5’ N, 044° 57’ E marked by the No. 1 buoys (QR and QG).   At night, with Elephant’s Back light (red and white sectored) on a bearing of not greater than 061° (white sector) a ship will clear the Little Aden Peninsula on a course to bring her close to the port entrance.  

Approaching from the E, pass 1 nm south of the Aden Peninsula and then to the channel   entrance.   At night, pass 1.5 nm S of Ra’s Marshaq light and then steer W to the entrance to the channel.  From the No. 1 buoys, the two harbours are approached by a dredged channel 16.0 m in depth, width 220 m.   From the bifurcation point, the channel to Little Aden oil harbour has a depth of 14.7 m, width 220 m, length 2.3 nm, marked by pairs of buoys. Vessels should proceed mid-way between these buoys, and immediately after passing No. 2 buoys, turn to head 300° on the leading marks for the centre of the channel to pass north of the oil harbour breakwater.

Aden inner harbour is approached by the same dredged channel, which divides at Buoy No. 3 (S Cardinal), 9 cables north of the channel entrance.   From this point, the inner harbour channel has a depth of 15.0 m, width 185 m and is 2.6 nm to the inner harbour breakwater.       Vessels proceed on a course of 027° to pass between No. 2 Buoys, then on a heading of 047° between the channel buoys to clear the inner harbour breakwater.   The 15.0 m deep dredged channel in the inner harbour is 220 m wide and leads, on a heading of 068°, to the 700 m diameter turning area off the ACT.   Ships proceeding to Ma’alla should then pass from the south side of the turning area between buoys Nos 9 starboard and 9 port.  


Pilotage is compulsory for all vessels over 200 GRT entering or leaving (with certain exceptions).   The pilot station for the oil harbour and for deep draft vessels bound for the inner harbour is at the channel entrance.   The pilot station for other vessels proceeding to the inner harbour is by No. 1 buoys 9 cables NNE of the point where the oil harbour and inner harbour channels divide.  


All vessels arriving off the port and wishing to enter must show the standard international signal to request a pilot.   Pilot boats have red hulls and yellow superstructures.   They exhibit the standard international pilot signal at night.   A pilot ladder should be rigged on the port side by the ship during the NE Monsoon period (mid-September to May).   During the SW monsoon (June to mid-September), pilot ladders should be rigged on the port side for ships approaching from the W and on the starboard side for ships approaching from the E.  




Anchorage areas are available for ships in the outer harb, with depths of from 6 to 20 meters in good holding ground.   Anchorage areas are not marked on the chart at present.   Smaller vessels can anchor to the north of the oil harbour approach channel and west of the inner harbour approach channel.   Vessels with a draft of ten meters or more can anchor to the south of the oil harbour approach channel and west of the approach channel to both harbours.   Anchorage is prohibited within a radius of 5 cables of the channel entrance and within  2 cables of any port approach channel.

Vessels are warned that many disused cables exist in the area between Ras Tarshayn and Jazirat Salil.   A fiber-optic cable is laid from south of the port entrance to the shore (see Admiralty Chart No. 7).
A yacht anchorage is available in the inner harbour between the Prince of Wales/Abkhari Pier and the dolphin oil berth north of this.   Large yachts may anchor in the anchorage south of the western end of the rubble mound.


The Port of Aden is situated between the promontories of Aden (Jebel Shamsan, 553 m) and Little Aden (Jebel Muzalqam, 374 m) and is protected from the NE and SW monsoons by these hills and along the northern boundary by land, enabling it to operate without restriction all year. The harbour covers an area some 8 nm east-west and 3 nm north-south.

The port consists of the outer harbour, providing anchorage areas, the oil harbour at Little Aden on the west side of the harbour, and the inner harbour to the east. These harbours are reached by a channel from the entrance mid-way between the promontories. The outer section of the channel has a depth of 16.0 m. From the bifurcation point, a channel heading north west to the Little Aden oil harbour has a depth of 14.7 m, leading to four berths for oil tankers at depths of between 11.6 and 15.8 m, alongside LPG and dry cargo berths, and a RoRo berth, all at a depth of11.0 meters.


The channel to the inner harbour, leading north east from the bifurcation point, has a least depth of 15.0 m. The inner harbour has 9 alongside berths, plus 6 buoy and 3 bunkering (dolphin) berths with depths between 5.5 and 11.9 m. On the north side of the inner harbour, the Aden Container Terminal (ACT) provides 700 meters of quay, depth alongside 16.0 meters (completed in March 1999). Off the ACT is a turning area, depth 15.0 m, diameter 700 m. At the eastern end of the inner harbour, a short channel of depth 11.0 m leads to the Ma'alla Terminal, with 4 container/general/bulk berths of total length 750 m, depth 11.0 m., and a RoRo berth depth 7.6 m. At the eastern end of this terminal is the Home Trade Quay, 250 m long, depth 6.7 m . The inner harbour also contains a fishing harbour and a ship repair yard with two floating docks.

The inner harbour is protected by a short breakwater at Ras Marbut, where the harbour control tower is situated. The Harbour Master's office is in the tower.  50,000 tone capacity bulk silos and a flour milling plant have been constructed at Ma'alla (1999).  


Other services & facilities

Passenger/cruise berths, calls by Naval Vessels 23 passenger vessels called at Aden in 1998. These use the two bunkering dolphins on the south side of the harbour opposite the tourist pier. Passenger launches are available to transfer passengers to and from the ships, but they may also use their own launches. Naval vessels from America, France, Germany, Holland, India, Oman and the UK have recently called at Aden. These use the RoRo and main berths at Ma'alla and/or the port's bunkering facilities.   



Ship repair, bunkering, towage, dry-docking, launch service, medical facilities, fresh water, dirty ballast reception, gray/black water reception, rubbish collection, provisions, repatriation, marine/engineering surveys, gyro/radio repairs, life raft repairs and surveys.









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