The Grands Ports Maritimes (GPM – Great Maritime Ports) were created as part of the port reform launched by the French State at the beginning of 2008, the purpose of which is to:
- refocus the missions of the port authorities on regulatory activities (security, safety and port police) and the development functions of the port domain,
- simplify and rationalize the organization of port handling,
- modernize the governance of major seaports,
- ensure consistency between commercial policies and allow better management of investments by port establishments located on the same seafront,
- ensure the integration of sustainable development issues in the catchment area of the Grands Ports Maritimes.
Act No. 2008-660 of 4 July 2008 on port reform specifies that "major seaports are public establishments of the State.
Within the limits of its constituency, the Grand Port Maritime ensures the integration of sustainable development issues in compliance with competition rules and is responsible, according to the procedures it determines, for the following tasks:
- The creation, operation and maintenance of maritime access points;
- Police, safety and security, as defined in Book III, and missions contributing to the general smooth running of the port;
- The management and valorization of the estate it owns or which is assigned to it;
- The management and preservation of the natural public domain and the natural spaces it owns or which are assigned to it; it consults the scientific council of the estuary,
- where there is one, on its development programmes affecting natural areas;
- The construction and maintenance of port infrastructure, in particular basins and platforms, as well as land access routes and terminals, in particular rail and inland waterways;
- Promoting the provision of rail and inland waterway services in cooperation with the operators concerned;
- The development and management of industrial or logistical zones linked to port activity;
- Actions contributing to the general promotion of the port.
The Grand Port Maritime du Havre replaced the Port Autonome du Havre (Le Havre Autonomous Port), following the publication of Decree No. 2008-1037 of 9 October 2008.