Port of Durres
41°19'N 19°27'E
          Durres seaport was essential for the movement of heavy military equipment and humanitarian aid into Albania. When AFOR arrived the port had a capacity of 8 ships per day. AFOR quickly established a Port Management Co-ordination Centre, in conjunction with civil harbour authorities, which planned and co-ordinated the flow of military and civilian vessels, as well as facilitating the management of the throughput of humanitarian aid. This improved ship turn around times, allowing 12 to be off-loaded daily. AFOR also improved the road network within the port area and established 120,000 square metres of secure storage and marshalling areas for equipment, containers and personnel. This effort involved the reclamation of large areas that had previously been used to dump industrial by-products and scrap metal.
          The Port of Durrës is located at the north end of the Bay of Durrës (Gjiri I Durrësit), an extensive body of water entered between Kala e Turrës (41°09'N 19°26'E) and Cape Durrës (Kepi I Durrësit) (41°19'N 19°26'E). Cape Durrës is located approximately 1 nmi west of the Port of Durrës.
          Anchorage for U.S. Navy and other deep draft ships can be made on a mud bottom in depths of 26-43 ft (8-13 m) approximately ½ nmi (0.9 km) south-southeast of Cape Durrës. Although the harbor can accommodate ships as large as 4,000 tons, large U.S. Navy ships normally anchor out rather than occupy valuable commercial pier space. Ships with drafts of 21.3 ft (6.5 m) or less can anchor east of the channel. Local harbor authorities state that holding is good on a sand bottom, but ships may drag anchor in winds greater than 39 kt (20 ms -¹).
          The seaward end of the initial approach channel to Durrës lies south-southwest of the harbor. Small ships may not be required to use the channel for its entire length, but to avoid danger, all vessels should be in the channel by the time 19°24'E longitude is reached. Lighted buoys, using what is locally called the 'Yellow System,' mark the final 2.1 nmi long entrance channel to the Port of Durrës. The minimum width of the channel is 50 yd (46 m). Because of hidden dangers, vessels with drafts greater than 21.3 ft (6.5 m) must stay in the marked channel. Vessels with drafts of 21.3 ft (6.5 m) or less can enter safely by keeping all of the channel buoys on the port side of the ship until Buoy #1 is reached. The controlling depth in the entrance channel is not exactly known because, as of a May 1998 port visit, it had not been dredged in recent years. As a result, access to the Port of Durrës is limited to vessels with drafts of 26.25 ft (8 m) or less.  

          Durrës Harbor is an artificial basin that is formed between two moles. The East Mole extends south-southwestward along the east side of the basin. The West Mole, forming the southern limit of the harbor, extends southeast and east from the shore. The resulting west-northwesterly oriented entrance is approximately 200 yd (183 m) wide as it passes between the ends of the moles.

           The Port of Durrës has approximately 2,503 ft (763 m) of alongside pier space on the West Mole, with additional space on the west side of the harbor, providing ten berths for ocean-going vessels. Pier specifications are listed in Table 1 below. All piers have adequate fendering. A tanker berth is located on the East Mole. A fishing harbor lies at the north end of the East Mole.

           Several wrecks are located just west of the buoy line marking the entrance channel to the Port of Durrës. In the south part of the Bay of Durrës, shallow water and underwater rocks (Selada Shoals) pose a hazard to ships north of the Cape of Lagjit (Kepi i Lagjit). Because of these dangers, the use of a pilot is deemed necessary to enter the port. Pilots are available 24-hours/day. Pilots embark/debark in the vicinity of 41°15'18"N 19°25'48"E, approximately 1 nmi southwest of Buoy 10. Buoys 9 and 10 mark the southern end of the buoyed channel. The pilots are said to speak little English but are very familiar with the harbor.

           The use of tugboats is mandatory at the Port of Durrës. Two medium-sized tugs are available.

           Ships in the Port of Durrës are required to maintain a watch on VHF channels 15 (working) and 16 (international). Both channels broadcast in English.

           A 1988 edition of Mediterranean Pilot, Volume III states: "On account of the presence of mines Gjiri I Durrësit should be approached in daylight only, and when Kala e Turrës and Shkëmbi i Kavajës cannot be seen it is imprudent to approach Durrës harbour." During a May 1998 port visit, however, local harbor authorities stated that the water around the port is now clear of mine hazards.

           A Fleet Landing for U.S. Navy ships is established when necessary on Pier 5 in the corner of the quay at the junction of Piers 4 and 5. Small boats operated by the port can operate in seas up to 6.6 ft (2 m) in height, and would expect an anchored ship to provide a lee for safe on/off loading of boats in the anchorage.


        Table 1.   Pier specifications for the Port of Durres. Alongside depths are based on surveys taken in 1996. Actual depths may vary from those listed in the table.