A modern port: Portsmouth upgrades with the future in mind



Portsmouth Commercial Port, Portsmouth, UK


Portsmouth Commercial Port is the UK’s premier ferry port for the western channel and second busiest cross channel ferry port in the UK. It is also the leading port for the importation of the country’s bananas. It is committed to long-term growth through the development of infrastructure and resources in line with market needs.

Owned by Portsmouth City Council since 1839, the Port is the most successful municipal port in the UK and is seen as the centrepiece of Portsmouth’s commercial maritime activities. The Port comprises of two core businesses: the Continental Ferry Port, which is served by passenger and freight ferries; and Flathouse and Albert Johnson Quays which house MMD Shipping Services.

The Continental Ferry Port serves ferries sailing to the Continent and the Channel Islands, as well as regular cruise calls. Destination ports include Bilbao,  Cherbourg, Caen, Le Havre, St Malo, St Helier and St Peter Port. In addition March 2009 will see a new service to Santander launched by Brittany Ferries.  This year will see the Port attracting 22 cruise calls, including 15 turnaround calls. Cruise ships visiting the Port include Fred Olsen’s Boudicca and the Saga Group’s Spirit of  Adventure. MMD, which was bought by Portsmouth Commercial Port in February 2008, offers a state of the art fruit importing facility, currently handling almost half a million tonnes of quality fruit a year.

Portsmouth Commercial Port

On 29 February 2008, Portsmouth Commercial Port purchased MMD Shipping Services, helping safeguard MMD’s position as a significant importer of goods into the UK, and therefore helping maintain the status of Portsmouth as an important commercial port.

The Port’s ownership of MMD has also brought strategic benefits to the business, allowing it to develop in line with expected changes to the fruit importing business over the next 15-20 years. In recent months, MMD has seen an increase in larger, refrigerated ships, with a trend towards larger on deck container capacity.  Recognising the fruit trade’s needs, MMD has itself made significant investment in mobile harbour cranes, container handling equipment, warehouse facilities and information technology in order to provide for the new ships and their customers. Fyffes and Geest are major customers importing bananas and pineapples. In  addition there is an increasing volume and variety of fruits and vegetables being handled for the major Moroccan producers.

Portsmouth Commercial Port is attractively positioned for fruit importers as it’s the first deepwater fresh produce terminal travelling eastward up the English Channel, so many ship owners can go on to second ports on the continent.

MMD is able to offer a fully integrated service to all its customers whereby delivery services are available to meet up with designated ripening centres and retail distribution centres. In addition, it operates a 24/7 service whereby ships can be discharged anytime and warehouses are open all day and all night. This flexibility is vital for fruit importers.


In 2007 Portsmouth Commercial Port unveiled Portsmouth Intermodal Goods Yard. For the first time in 30 years, this allowed the Port’s freight customers a rail option to transport their freight to final destinations across the country. In addition to offering an alternative to road freight, the service provides an option that both helps avoid congestion and cuts carbon emissions.

The development of the site, which cost €861,000 and was supported by SEEDA, required 425 metres of siding to be installed in addition to 416 metres of concrete 12 metres wide. Planning of the Intermodal development began in 1998 and on 19 January 2009 the first train, operated by DB Shenker, left the Intermodal Goods Yard carrying containers.

Portsmouth Port predicts that transporting goods by rail will cut the amount of road freight travelling in Portsmouth by an estimated 6,000 units per annum within five years.

Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port
Berthing facilities

Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port has five berths and is capable of handling most roll-on roll-off (RoRo) vessels currently in service. In March 2004, an £8 million development project to transform Berth Number Three was completed. It included a new state-of-the-art linkspan enabling it to facilitate an even greater variety of vessels and cargoes including the next generation of cruise ferries and fast craft. In addition, in April 2004, a substantial overhaul to refurbish Berth Number One was completed. It is now fitted with a refurbished linkspan capable of accepting modern high-speed craft.

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