Tuas Port's 1st phase completed, 2 berths set to open

Two berths at Tuas Port will be open for use by the end of the year, with the port's first phase of construction completed, comprising 21 berths.

The milestone marks the one-quarter stage of the overall Tuas Port project, which is estimated to cost more than $20 billion and is scheduled to be finished by the 2040s.

The opening of Singapore's fifth container port comes at an opportune time, when some of its storage facilities had to be opened ahead of schedule in the past few months to cope with the supply chain crisis.

In September, 2,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of storage space were made available at Tuas Port to store containers that were stuck here awaiting trans-shipment. Each TEU is the standard dimension of one shipping container.

At 414ha, Tuas Port Phase One occupies the size of 773 football fields, and will contribute another 20 million TEUs to Singapore's annual handling capacity, which currently stands at 37.2 million.

The whole of Tuas Port, when completed, will eventually be able to handle 65 million TEUs - nearly double Singapore's current port capacity.

At a commemoration event yesterday, Transport Minister S. Iswaran said that Tuas Port Phase One's completion was especially hard-earned owing to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in the last two years.

Work on phase one began six years ago, and more than 450 companies were involved.

"The completion... is a significant milestone, demonstrating our resilience amid adversity," said Mr Iswaran. "With more ships calling here (as a result of the larger capacity), Singapore will enjoy even stronger maritime connectivity.

"As a global hub, Tuas Port will bring even more value to companies in our international maritime centre and create more jobs for our people."

The port was first mooted in 2012 by the Government and is Singapore's fifth container port to be built since Tanjong Pagar Terminal started operations in 1972.

It has been touted as bigger, greener and more technologically advanced than its predecessors, and will consolidate current operations at Tanjong Pagar, Keppel, Brani and Pasir Panjang terminals.

When completed, Tuas Port is expected to occupy 1,337ha of land, equivalent to three-quarters of the size of Singapore's central area or twice the size of Ang Mo Kio town.

Phase one was completed by a joint venture of Dredging International Asia Pacific and Daelim Industrial, with Surbana Jurong as the supervising consultant.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said yesterday that phase one construction largely involved land reclamation works as 70 per cent of the space is reclaimed land.

A total of 221 10-storey-high structures called caissons were prefabricated on land, and then laid on the seabed using a vessel, to build a sea wall measuring 8.6km long. This process was automated where possible.

For example, an automatic rebar machine system was used to bend and cut steel bars used to reinforce the caissons automatically, increasing productivity by 25 per cent.

The single vessel used to lay the caissons on the seabed also reduced the manpower needed by 80 per cent when compared with conventional methods that rely on multiple smaller vessels and divers.

Together with other innovative uses of technology - such as drones equipped with artificial intelligence processors to survey the land - MPA ultimately saved $1 billion in the building of Tuas Port Phase One.

Mr Iswaran said environmental concerns were also considered, and this helped to make construction cheaper. More than 50 per cent of the fill materials for phase one were either dredged materials from the seabed or excavated from other construction projects.

Phase two's reclamation works have already started and will involve 9.1km of caissons.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2021, with the headline Tuas Port's 1st phase completed, 2 berths set to open. Subscribe