Destination for "Super Ships"
On March 30, 2023, Gemalink International Port welcomed the OOCL Spain container ship with a capacity of 24,188 TEUs. This marked the largest container ship to ever dock at the Cai Mep - Thi Vai port in BRVT.
The OOCL Spain's maiden voyage on the Asia-Europe LL3 route covered Chinese ports, with a stop at Cai Mep, before continuing its journey through Singapore, Piraeus, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge, Valencia, Piraeus, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, and Shanghai. The entire journey spanned 84 days.
With a capacity of 24,188 TEUs, a total length of 399.99 meters, and a width of 61.3 meters, the OOCL Spain is ranked among the world's largest container ships. Launched on February 16, 2023, it holds three "Smart Ship" certificates from the United States' Bureau of Transportation (ABS) for environmental friendliness, and it is the largest container ship to ever dock in the Vietnamese port system
Earlier, the Ministry of Transport expressed support for adjusting the master plan for the Cai Mep Gemadept - Terminal Link port to accommodate vessels up to 250,000 DWT. The decision also allowed the OOCL Spain, with a payload of up to 232,495 DWT, to enter and leave the port.
The reception of the OOCL Spain at Gemalink port is seen as heralding a new phase in the development of the Cai Mep port cluster and the Vietnamese maritime industry as a whole.
According to the Vung Tau Maritime Port Authority, in the past five years, the NRVT seaport has welcomed increasingly larger vessels each year. The total number of ships with a payload exceeding 80,000 tons entering and leaving the Vung Tau seaport has shown a consistent increase since 2017.
Notably, the size of vessels entering Cai Mep has also rapidly grown. The leadership of the Cai Mep International Terminal (CMIT) revealed that before 2011, the majority of ships entering the Cai Mep area had a size below 80,000 DWT. However, in recent years, many ships ranging from 132,000 DWT to over 200,000 DWT have frequented the Cai Mep seaport. Currently, 40% of the service routes handle ships larger than 132,000 DWT, according to information from CMIT.
The Cai Mep - Thi Vai port cluster, in particular, is the largest deep-water port in the country capable of accommodating the world's largest cargo ships with a payload of 240,000 DWT.
Vietnam's Maritime Hub
According to the Vietnam Maritime Administration (VMA), Vietnam's seaport infrastructure is increasingly developing on a modern scale, contributing to improving the quality of services and the competitiveness of Vietnamese seaports. Many professional port operators and major global shipping companies are investing in the construction and operation of seaports in Vietnam, particularly in BRVT.
For example, PSA Group from Singapore (the world's 3rd largest port operator) invested in and operates the SP-PSA port in BRVT, APM Terminals from Denmark (the world's 2nd largest port operator) invested in and operates CMIT Port in BRVT, and Hutchison Port Holding from Hong Kong (the world's largest port operator) invested in SITV port in BRVT.
Major shipping companies are also participating in investment and operation of numerous ports in Vietnam, such as Mitsui O.S.K Line (Japan) and Wanhai Lines (Taiwan, China) investing in the Tan Cang - Cai Mep International Container Port.
On February 18, 2023, the Ministry of Transport commenced the project to upgrade the Cai Mep - Thi Vai waterway from buoy "0" to the Cai Mep container port. The project involves the renovation and expansion of the ship channel segment from buoy "0" to CMIT port, with an upgraded length of 30.5 km, a bottom width of 350 m, and a depth of -15.5 m. Additionally, turning basins will be established at the junctions of the Theu River (downstream of SSIT port) with a diameter of 700 m and the Gia River with a diameter of 600 m, both at a depth of -15.5 m.
The project is expected to be completed in 2024, catering to ships with a payload of up to 200,000 DWT/18,000 TEU or more (meeting maritime safety conditions) for one-way operation. With a water depth in front of the port reaching -16.5 m, Gemalink Deepwater Port is one of the deepest ports in Vietnam. With these technical specifications, it is one of the few ports in the world capable of receiving mother ships with a load capacity of up to 250,000 DWT—the largest container ships in the world for optimal operational efficiency.
In 2022, the Cai Mep port area established 22 routes to the Americas, 2 routes to Europe, and 10 routes to internal Asia, tripling the numbers from 2013 (which had 8 routes to the Americas and Europe in 2018).
Aside from 25 transport routes to the Americas (focused on the two deep-water ports of Lach Huyen and Cai Mep - Thi Vai) and 3 routes to Europe, Vietnam has over 100 internal Asian transport routes, concentrated in the top port areas: 1 (Hai Phong, Quang Ninh), 3 (Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Quang Nam), and 4 (Ho Chi Minh City, BRVT).
Data from the Vietnam Seaports Association (VPA) shows that the container cargo throughput via the Cai Mep port area in 2022 was 5.3 times higher than in 2012, increasing from over 900,000 TEUs in 2012 to over 5 million TEUs in 2022.
Last year, the World Bank and Standard & Poor's Market Research released the Container Port Performance Index (CPPI), evaluating the operational efficiency of 348 container ports and data from the world's top 10 container shipping companies. Cai Mep port was ranked high at 13th out of 348.
The maritime economy, shipping, and logistics services are the spearheads of BRVT's maritime economy.