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For other uses, see Port (disambiguation).
Seaport, a painting by Claude Lorrain, 1638
Seaport, a painting by Claude Lorrain, 1638
The Port of Wellington at night. Due to limited capacity, many ports operate twenty-four hours a day.
The Port of Wellington at night. Due to limited capacity, many ports operate twenty-four hours a day.

A port is a facility at the edge of an ocean, river, or lake for receiving ships and transferring cargo and persons to them. Ports have specially-designed equipment to help in the loading and unloading of these vessels. Cranes and refrigerated storage may be provided by private interests or public bodies. Often, canneries or other processing facilities will be located very close by. Ports tend to be divided into container terminals.

The term seaport is used for ports that handle ocean-going vessels, and river port is used for facilities that handle river traffic. Sometimes a port on a lake or river also has access to the ocean, and is then referred to as an inland port. A fishing port is a type of port or harbor facility particularly suitable for landing and distributing fish. A dry port is a term sometimes used to describe a yard used to place containers or conventional bulk cargo, usually connected to a seaport by rail or road. While the term airport is derived from port, such places are never referred to as ports, except when international airports (as well as some land border crossings) are referred to as ports of entry.

The presence of deep water in channels or berths, the provision of protection from the wind, waves and storm surges and access to intermodal transportation such as trains or trucks are critical to the functioning of seaports and river ports.

Cargo containers allow for efficient transport and distribution as each product, box and bulk cargo do not need to be loaded individually at each transportation point, making the loading and unloading process more efficient. Cargo can be sealed at point of origin, transported via intermodal transport, before being stacked and loaded on container ships. These are then ultimately opened at final point of resale or destination. This is a vital part of modern retailing Just in Time Delivery strategies.

Seaports and river ports are often equipped with large cranes for the loading and unloading of containers from container ships. These are usually operated by stevedores. Pilots and tugboats are also used to safely maneuver the ships in tight quarters.

Major ports

See World's busiest port and List of seaports

See also

External links

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