60 years old……….

Newspaper celebrates six decades of reporting on harbour developments

The port of Walvis Bay finds itself in very exciting times right now. The inauguration and commissioning is around the corner of the container terminal on reclaimed land in the port of Walvis Bay. As part of our 60th anniversary, we look back at some key milestones in the history of the development of the port of Walvis Bay. The information contained in this article is extract from Namib Times as we brought our readers port news over a period of six decades.

The development of the container terminal on reclaimed land also brought marvelous advancements to the port. Most notably the giant ship-to-shore cranes which towers of the port and a passenger liner berth only a stone’s throw from the Walvis Bay Waterfront.
The massive bulk liquid fuel terminal also nears completion north of the naval base. By huge underground fuel pipelines the liquid fuel terminal is linked to a giant tank farm of Namcor and we can state without hesitation: Walvis Bay is home to mega infrastructure. Mega infrastructure that will keep Walvis Bay relevant as the import- and export hub between world markets and economies of the SADC.
The history of Walvis Bay and that of the port of Walvis Bay and the fishing industry have been inter-twined. It is most likely to remain that way.
An extract: “In the mid-1800’s there were no regular services to and from Walvis Bay. Ships had to be chartered to transport travelers and goods to and from Walvis Bay”, Nils Bruzelius writes in his book titled: How The Port Of Walvis Bay became Namibian”.
Ship traffic was mostly generated by whaling vessels and guano harvesting activities. At one point in time meat was shipped between Cape Town and Saint Helena Island via Walvis Bay. Walvis Bay was a small settlement. Nothing else than a bay providing shelter for ships laying at anchor.
By 1857 a regular mail service was established through the port. By 1870, according to Bruzelius, a schooner made regular calls from Cape Town. A ships agent was established here which also handled the mail.
At the time the Matchless Mine in the Khomas Hochland produced lucrative shipments of copper which were shipped from Walvis Bay.
Despite, it was not until 1904 that the first wooden jetty was constructed in Walvis Bay. It was suitable for smaller boats, but larger ships had to anchor in the bay and was offloaded and re-supplied by lighters (small supply boats).
A tramway led from the jetty to the settlement and beyond to Plum east of Walvis Bay (18km long). The wagons were at first hauled by mules and replaced in 1899 by a steam locomotive. The tramway was not viable and abandoned by 1905. The last locomotive (nicknamed Hope) that worked on this line can be seen today displayed in front of the railway station in 6th Street.
At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, work had to be halted on the construction of an iron jetty (262m of the total length of 640m were completed).
Walvis Bay was a landing point for Union of South African troops (they landed here an Christmas Day 1914). The South Africans moved swiftly to occupy Swakopmund. It was the first war actions of what would become the South West Africa Campaign and the defeat of the German Forces by May 1915. It was the end of German colonial rule.
By 1927 the Rooibank water scheme was established and Walvis Bay now had water supply for the visiting ships. Before that all water was hauled here by ship from Cape Town.
In the same period the first three wharfs (current day wharfs 1 to 3) were constructed (457m long) and the dredging of the en-trance channel took place.
Reporting on port matters was a priority for Namib Times, right from its first edition on 5 December 1958 to the current edition that hit the streets yesterday. As we embark on the journey of the seventh decade, we will continue to keep our readers up-dated with port news.
Throughout every edition we had a port log (it was first known as “Ship Movements”). The first major development we re-ported on was the extension of the wharf from the original 457m, with a further 396m to make provision for what we still have today as berths number one to eight.

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