Dredging the Port of Tanjung Palepas

Dredging the Port of Tanjung Palepas

Brantz von Mayer and The Writers for Hire


The Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia is a notable case study in fast-track dredging and development. In the late 1990s, Malaysia's major southern port -- the Johor Port at Pasir Gudang -- was approaching max capacity. The Port Authority realized that the Johor Port would not be able to handle southern Malaysia's growing traffic requirements. They identified the Port of Tanjung Pelepas as the best site for a port that would be able to meet all future traffic demands. 

The project, however, would require a massive amount of work. Dredgers would need to clear 200 hectares of mangroves, create a 9 kilometer approach channel (approx volume 16 million cubic meters), and dredge to foundation level below Wharf Bund (approximate volume 5.5 million cubic meters). 1

Essentially, the site at Tanjung Pelepas would have to be transformed from a Malaysian jungle to a bustling urban port. Remarkably, the feat was accomplished in less than five years.Just half a decade after site designation, the port received its maiden vessel. Five-hundred and seventy one days later, it set a world record:Tanjung Pelepas was the fastest port in the world to reach the mark for handling one million twenty-foot equivalent units of containers. 2

The fast-track port development was accomplished with a large fleet of dredgers which are currently still at work to complete the port (completion is slated for 2020). 3 As with many major dredging projects, a combination of dredger types was used for maximum efficiency.For example, when creating the initial channel, trailing suction hopper dredgers could not remove material from the shallower areas. Therefore, cutter suction dredgers were used to excavate the material, and dump it in deeper waters, where medium-sized trailing suction hopper dredgers then re-dredged that material while also picking up the current bottom sediment to deepen the channel in their section.  All of the dredged sediment was then transported to the designated dumping grounds. 4 Dredging in the deepest parts was accomplished by jumbo trailing suction hopper dredgers. Much of this work was accomplished by the "Amsterdam", a jumbo hopper dredger that worked nearly 70 weeks on the project, moving more than 200 thousand cubic meters of sediment per week.


1. Tanjung Pelepas Port: From Jungle to Malaysia’s Newest Container Port, Allard Renkema and David Kinlan, September 2000:  http://www.terra-et-aqua.com/dmdocuments/Terra-et-Aqua_nr80_01.pdf

2. Wikipedia Entry, Port of Tanjung Palepas:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_of_Tanjung_Pelepas

3. http://www.iadc-dredging.com (About Dredging: Projects: Trade)

4. Tanjung Pelepas Port: From Jungle to Malaysia’s Newest Container Port, Allard Renkema and David Kinlan, September 2000:  http://www.terra-et-aqua.com/dmdocuments/Terra-et-Aqua_nr80_01.pdf

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