Port of Singapore Authority – Container Terminal

During a visit to the Port of Singapore, Gordon Rankine was taken to the very first container berth in the port that his grandfather (Sir Bruce White) had designed in the early 1970’s. The original Phase 1 included nearly 1,000m of berth for third generation container vessels together with 400m for feeder vessels. This was completed in 1974 and immediately followed by Phase 2 which added a further 600m of deep water wharf. The use of pre-stressed concrete spun piles was a successful innovation in the structure. This design was then used for many of the container berths as the port developed into one of the largest in the world.

PSA International Pte Ltd (formerly Port of Singapore Authority before corporatisation in 1997) operates the port and had organised the visit. They had thoughtfully arranged for PSA’s most experienced engineers to be in attendance because they knew about these early Port of Singapore projects. Sir Bruce White’s work at Singapore started in 1954 with studies and designs for the reconstruction of East Wharf and later continued with extension of the deep water wharves at Jurong as well as wharves, slipways and associated infrastructure for the Naval Base. Gordon showed his hosts the photograph of the berth’s opening ceremony on the left and the other contemporary documents below.

It was fascinating to see that the berth was still in full operation after 38 years. Equipment has been modernised and handling techniques improved, but the big transformation is that the original berth is now at the epicentre of the three terminals in the Keppel Harbour area with over thirty of the world’s most modern container berths surrounding it.