The world’s largest wharf is at the Port of New Orleans. It is 2.01 miles (3.4 km) long. It is big enough to hold 15 vessels simultaneously. The port itself is the fifth largest in the US. The port manages over 80 million short tons annually.
What is a Wharf?
A wharf or quay is a type of platform where ships and other sea vessels are docked. Unloading and loading takes place here. There are several types of quays. The standard platform is parallel to the shore. It can be constructed by carving in and strengthening the shore.
A natural docking point is the result. A typical wharf on the other hand, is perpendicular to the shore. This has the potential to provide more unloading and docking space.
Wharves and quays are practically the same. But the term wharves are now used for the platforms on large harbors. The term quay is used for private ones.
The world’s largest wharf is built from different materials, and so are quays. During ancient times, these were built by the banks or bays or rivers. Stone was used to reinforce them. Modern wharves or quays may be constructed from metal, wood, concrete or stone. Pier and post construction are commonplace. This is more affordable than solid construction.
Since ancient times, the quay has always been a busy place. Shipping offices, warehouses and houses of harbor officials were often nearby. Many contemporary wharfs however, do not always follow this tradition. Improvements in communications no longer mean it is necessary for shipping officials to live near the site.
Access to wharves and quays are restricted. This is to avoid accidents and confusion. Apart from the ship’s crew, dock hands and shipyard workers are almost always present. If the wharf accepts passengers ships, the people on board the ship will be unloaded to a specific location.
Wharfs can be a confusing place, so these passengers have to be confined. Those used to quays will have no problems navigating the site, but first time visitors may find it bewildering.
Because the shipping business is expanding rapidly, larger and bigger wharves are being built. While the New Orleans Port still has the world’s largest wharf, other quays may catch up with it.