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San Antonio Port, Chile –  History Earthquakes, Milestones

San Antonio Port in Chile is one of the busiest and largest ports in the country and on the west coast of South America. We take a closer look at this port and its host city.

Port History

The site of San Antonio Port was originally home to Huechun Cacique and his people who were mainly fishermen and farmers. Portuguese Don Antonio Nunez de Fonseca then received a grant of the lands in 1590, and he built warehouses to store seafood and agricultural produce that the region would then export to Santiago. Construction of the modern port only began in 1910, however, the port only had access to an electrical plant, housing for workers, new warehouses, and facilities that were capable of handling large sea-going vessels in 1936. A tax exempted status was granted to San Antonio Port by the Chilean law in 1958, and in 1960 the responsibility of administering, operating, and managing the port was given to Portuaria Compania de Chile (EMPORCHI).


Having been around for so many years, this port has been and been a part of many events in time, and had a number of its own challenges and successes. Back in 1985, the city of San Antonio was hit by the Santiago earthquake, which destroyed 80% of the city. This did some damage to the port, and it took a bit of time to recover. The San Antonio Port was impacted later on in 2010 by the earthquake that took place on 27 February, but by 3 March 2020, the port had resumed operations at 80% of its capacity. However, after this earthquake only 5 of the 8 docking points resumed their operations.

Port Milestones

Here are just a few noteworthy milestones of this port over its time:

  1. In 2002 the Port of San Antonio moved over nine million tons of cargo, which was a new high.
  2. 101 hectares of land was reserved by the National Ministry of Goods in 2003, for the development of the harbour at the port.
  3. The South Molo extension of the port began in 2005.
  4. In 2006, the Port of San Antonio was identified as the 8th major port in the region by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
  5. In 2020, the battle between San Antonio Port and Valparaiso Port for container handling supremacy was won by the port. This was based on a number of factors, including TEU for the two ports over 2018 and 2019. “This longstanding fight between San Antonio and Valparaiso to become the key port for Chile, and de facto, for our capital Santiago de Chile, is a fight that finally is in favour of San Antonio,” explains Ricardo Sanchez, who is the Senior Economic Affairs Director, Infrastructure Division for ECLAC (the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, part of the United Nations).
  6. In 2020 the Port was also impacted by a truckers strike, which led to over 300 000 tons of vegetable protein and grains being detained by ships on tour in the port.

The Port Today

In addition to being the top container handling port on Chile, the Port of San Antonio is also a popular cruise port in the country. Being just an hour and a half outside Santiago, passengers often choose to visit this city and head on to Santiago for further exploring. A large-scale breakwater port was constructed at the port to help keep up with the increasing demand and the future demand predicted.

We look forward to seeing how this port continues to grow and develop once the shipping industry is up and running at full capacity again. Here’s hoping they won’t have to deal with more earthquakes!

If you are looking for Underwater Maintenance service for your vessel at San Antonio Port, contact Port of Call Consulting today.

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