Corporate entry: British Solomon Islands Protectorate Ports Authority
- Alternative Names
- Kukum Wharf
- Ports Authority
The main ports of the Protectorate were situated at Honiara, Yandina, Gizo, Tulagi and Vanikolo, while the smaller harbours at Auki and Kirakira could be used by vessels of light draft. Viru Harbour, Nila, Ringi Cove and Allardyce Harbour were also used. There are also a number of sheltered lagoon anchorages formed by barrier reefs off New Georgia, Isabel and Malaita, which allowed safe navigation if one could draw on local knowledge of reefs. Control and operation of the official ports was vested in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate Ports Authority, an independent statutory authority.
The remains of the prewar Gavutu wharves remain opposite Tulagi, but until Honiara facilities were constructed, the only deepwater port was at Yandina, and except at Tulagi only lighterage facilities were available to handle overseas vessels. Levers Pacific Plantations Pty. Ltd. operated the Yandina port, which had a fifty-four-metre wharf frontage six metres deep. Gizo's port was controlled by the British Solomon Islands Trading Corporation, and the Kauri Timber Company operated the Vanikolo port. Until new facilities were built at Honiara, the Point Cruz area offered little protection for shipping during northwest squalls or cyclones, and so when the Meteorological Office issued warnings ships anchored at Point Cruz would make a dash for the safety of Tulagi Harbour thirty-two kilometres away. (AR 1957-1958, 47)
Honiara is situated on a curving section of Guadalcanal coast and has no natural sheltered port other than the inadequate Point Cruz. During the American occupation in the 1940s, the main wharf was at Kukum, with only a smaller, temporary wharf at Point Cruz. Kukum's wharf had three sections, two at right angles to the shore and one parallel, forming three sides of a rectangle. In the early Honiara years, this was the main wharf for overseas shipping, but eventually the most easterly section fell into disrepair, and then a cyclone on 24 February 1951 demolished it and the other sections. This forced overseas ships to unload off east Point Cruz using lighters. Between 1951 and 1955 there were no substantial wharfs in the Protectorate. Gizo wharf and harbour were unsuitable, the Tulagi and Gavutu wharfs had decayed (although they remained in use until their final collapse in 1953). The Levers Pacific Plantations Pty. Ltd. and Fairymead Sugar Co. Ltd. wharves at Yandina were in deep water, but far away from Honiara.
During October 1954, a major study was conducted into how to develop Honiara as a port. The first stage of building new port facilities was approved the following September. In 1958, a new 128-metre concrete wharf was constructed with a three-metre depth, with a nine-metre deep stub jetty for smaller overseas ships. Cargo handling sheds were added in 1959. (AR 1957-1958, 47) Plans to build a deepwater wharf began in mid-1960 with surveys to extend the existing wharf and install heavy mooring buoys to accommodate overseas vessels, which would use lighters to unload. In 1963, the funds were approved to expand a deepwater berth, financed by the Ports Authority along with a bank loan. Tenders were considered during early 1964, and Australia's Hornibrook Construction Co. won the contract and began work early the following year. The berth, seventy-one metres long with a minimum depth of 8.5 metres, was used for the first time on 15 February 1966. At this time about seventy overseas ships were visiting Honiara every year.
By 1974, Honiara had two large wharves, one a deepwater berth capable of taking vessels up to 213-metres long and draughts up to 8.5 metres. There were also three small jetties for local ships; two had a capacity to take vessels up to 35.5 metres and the other was owned by an oil company and had piped distillate available. The Shell Oil Company owned a submarine pipeline that ran from a moored buoy for tankers. In 1977, the Asian Development Bank provided ample funds to improve the port. (PIM Mar. 1951; NS 1 Sept. 1955, 12 Sept. 1955, July 1960, 15 Feb. 1963, 31 Mar. 1964, 14 Feb. 1965, 21 Feb. 1966, 16 Dec. 1977)
- Pacific Islands Monthly. Details
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details