Its deep harbor and large facilities have made it the US Navy’s most-visited port. The harbor and facilities will accommodate Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and battleships. US service personnel frequently take liberty there and have come to call it “The Sandbox.”
Tides—Currents.—The tidal rise here is 1.1m. Tidal currents, in combination with wind-driven currents, may cause cross-channel sets up to 1.5 knots, although a rate of 3 knots has been reported (1998). It has been reported (2011) that currents of up to 2 knots have been observed in the vicinity of the piers.
It has been reported (2003) that strong cross-channel sets, caused by the extensive reclamation projects NE and SW of the dredged channel, may be experienced.
Depths—Limitations.—The approach channel was dredged to a depth of 17m (2006) as far as the entrance to the inner basin.
The harbor is divided into two basins. The outer basin, comprising Berth 1 through Berth 17, has been dredged to 14m; Berth 16 and Berth 17 have an alongside depth of 16m. The inner basin, comprising Berth 18 through Berth 66, has been dredged to 11.5m, although it has been reported (2001) the depth at Berth 66 is only 10.5m; Berth 45 has an alongside dredged depth (2006) of 16m.
Tanker/LPG Berth No. 1, with a dredged depth of 15m (2006), lies close inside the entrance on the NE side of the harbor; vessels berth starboard side-to. Vessels with a maximum loa of 273m and a maximum draft of 14.0m at HW can be accommodated.
Tanker Berth No. 3, Tanker Berth No. 5, and Tanker Berth No. 7 have a dredged depth of 15m alongside (2006); vessels berth starboard side-to. Vessels with a maximum length of 273m and a maximum draft of 14.2m at HW can be accommodated.
West Wharf and East Wharf, located on each side of the entrance between the tanker berths and the Outer Basin, have been dredged to a depth of 5.5m and can accommodate vessels with a maximum draft of 5.5m. The wharfs are used by bitumen tankers, bunkering vessels, and small craft.
Container berths, located E of the harbor entrance, have a total berthing length of about 2,500m and have been dredged (2008) to a depth alongside of 15.8m.
Dry bulk, ro-ro, container, and general cargo vessels are handled at various berths throughout the harbor;
The maximum draft allowed in the harbor is 13m plus the height of the tide.