1965 – 1995 : Harbour extensions

In three decades, the port of Le Havre adapted to the oil era and the container traffic revolution. It relaxed its historic grip to inaugurate the giant terminals of Antifer and then Port 2000.
- Port du Havre

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  1965 – 1995 : Harbour extensions  

While steam was the driving force for the high-speed growth of Le Havre in the 19th century, the port was faced with several (r)evolutions during the 60s: 

  • the revolution in cargo handling and transport conditions: containerisation, and ro-ro transport; 
  • the growth in traffic in energy resources. 

The euphoria of the times which rose to a peak known as the "glorious thirties" - traffic through the port rose from 10 MT in 1950 to 89 MT in 1973 - incited the authorities to launch an ambitious development program, a genuine "march towards the East", the primary infrastructures for which were very quickly installed between 1966 and 1971 (based on the decree dated November 16, 1962): 

  • the extension of the tidal dock (the future René Coty basin) in the shelter of new dykes; 
  • the South–East inner basin; 
  • the junction canal between the basin and the Tancarville canal; 
  • the sealock (François 1) accessible to 250,000 Dwt ore tankers (dead-weight tonnage, or loading capacity of the ship). 

A shipping canal (the future Grand Canal of Le Havre) was then built, gradually enabling access for sea-going ships to the vast alluvial plain behind the port where new industrial complexes were being built. The high growth in container traffic resulted in the construction of several terminals: 

  • the Atlantic terminal in the tidal dock in 1968–70; 
  • the Europe terminal in the inner basin in 1971-74; 
  • the Ocean terminal in the inner basin in 1975-80; 
  • the Asia and America terminals in the tidal dock in 1992-95. 

Ces deux derniers terminaux sont conçus pour recevoir les nouveaux navires porte–conteneurs post–panamax (de largeur supérieure à 32,20 m) et de grande capacité (6 à 8 000 EVP - équivalents vingt pieds - unité de compte du trafic de conteneurs). Sur une période de trente cinq ans depuis 1968, le trafic conteneurisé du port est passé de moins de 100 000 à 2 millions d'EVP.

The latter two terminals were designed to berth the new post–panamax container ships (more than 32.20 m wide) with their high capacity (6 to 8,000 TEU - twenty foot equivalent units – the unit used to tally container traffic). During the thirty-five year period after 1968, containerised traffic through the port rose from less than 100,000 TEU to 2 million. 

To meet the demand for horizontal handling, the port of Le Havre obtained equipment of a new type: 

  • berths for car–ferries (freight and passengers) for cross-Channel traffic; 
  • specialised berths for ro-ro freight handling (especially new cars) from the Southern bank of Grand Canal of Le Havre from 1973 onwards. 
  • for coal: berth MC4 in 1960 in the tidal dock for ships of 80,000 DWT; berths for ships of 180,000 DWT in the tidal dock in 1976 (MC6) and the southern bank of the Grand Canal of Le Havre (combination bulk) in 1984; 
  • for crude oil (10 MT in 1960, more than 70 MT in 1973): berth CIM 8 for ships of 150,000 DWT in 1967, and berth CIM 10 for ships of 250,000 DWT in 1970. 


Before the 1973 crisis, the extremely high demand for crude oil led the Port Authority and the Compagnie Industrielle Maritime in 1970 to program the construction of a specialised, stand-alone terminal at Antifer, 15 km to the north of Le Havre, where the first super–tankers of 550,000 DWT arrived in 1976. 

The changes in traffic segments, in the sizes of the ships and handling conditions, and the large-scale extensions that caused such a rapid upheaval of the landscape of the port, were highlighted by the disappearance of the regular liners, both foreign and French, between New York and Le Havre (the "France" was decommissioned in 1974), to be relayed by modern-day cruise ships. 

At the end of 20th century, the equipment and facilities of the port were modernised, with container gantries, sheer-legs and hangars. Naval repair work developed with a new floating dock with a lifting capacity of 50,000 T. But shipbuilding, which had flourished for more than 150 years, disappeared: the ship-building yards of Augustin Normand shut down in 1964, followed by the Graville yards in 1999. 

The period at the end of the 20th century saw an improvement in overland access to the port, with the construction of a connection to the A13 motorway in 1985, as well as a motorway connection towards the South via the Normandy bridge and towards the North in 1995.