Entering the port of Ho Chi Minh City

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

The port of Ho Chi Minh City– mostly known by the name of Saigon Port – is Vietnam’s most important port and it is located in the southern part of the country, on the Saigon River (Song Sai Gon). There are two terminals in Ho Chi Minh City – Cat Lai Terminal and SPCT (Saigon Premium Container Terminal) – and our vessel called only Cat Lai Terminal, also known by the name of Saigon New Port.

Cat Lai Terminal is situated at the junction of two arms of Saigon River – Soai Rap and Long Tau Rivers – 48 miles away from the Vung Tau Pilot Station.

Long Tau River channel allows vessels with a maximum draft of 11 meters and maximum length of 230 meters only for daytime navigation (smaller vessel can transit during night time as well). The river transit takes ~ 4 hours, there are areas with restricted speed (10-12 knots), overtaking is permitted only in some sectors and only by pilot decision. The river transit is always scheduled according to the tide that has a range of ~ 3.2 m (with a maximum of 4 m) and entering the navigational channel – at Vung Tau – is scheduled with at least 45 minutes time space between two in-bound vessels.

The scenery on both sides of the channel is typical for a tropical delta, the shores being covered with dense vegetation, much of which is mangrove. There is a network of interconnected waterways separating numerous islands and strips of sand on both sides of the channel and they are covered with mangroves as well.

Entering Ho Chi Ming City

Entering Ho Chi Ming City

Entering Ho Chi Ming City

Closer to Ho Chi Minh City, the scenery changes, as the mangroves disappear and small villages appear on the right bank of the river – where locals work on rice fields, fish farms and bird farms.

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

In the channel, the traffic is not very crowded, but, as in most Asian ports, lots of fishing boats can be encountered everywhere. Most of them stay drift or at anchorage along the river banks and close to their fish traps or nets, but some are crossing the channel on both sides.

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

There are medium to large vessels waiting at anchor in some sectors and some dredgers, tugs and tows are transiting on both sides of the channel.

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Before approaching the port, the picturesque sky-line of the city of Ho Chi Minh comes into sight on the left and the vessel continues up North until it reaches the Cat Lai Terminal.

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

In the vicinity of the Terminal, the channel is crossed by small ferries that are moving people, cars and motorbikes across the river to a small village.Entering Ho Chi Minh City

In the terminal, vessels usually come portside alongside – with the bow up river – but they can also come starboard side alongside, if the tide allows it.

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Our vessel came starboard side alongside, after swinging to starboard with the help of two tugs which were pushing in the portside bow.

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

At departure, two tugs pulled us from the pier and we followed the same route – this time down Saigon River – until we reached Vung Tau Pilot Station where the pilots disembarked and the vessel went out into South China Sea.

Entering Ho Chi Minh City

 

You can watch a time lapse video of the entering maneuver here.

   You can watch a time lapse video of the departure maneuver here.

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