American Society of Civil Engineers

Development of the SP-SSA International Terminal, Vietnam

by Christopher B. Cornel, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE, (Project Manager, BergerABAM, 33301 Ninth Avenue South, Suite 300, Federal Way, WA 98003-2600 E-mail:, Morgan McArthur, M.ASCE, (Morgan McArthur, MASCE, GeoEngineers, Inc., 1101 South Fawcett Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402 E-mail:, and David Michou, (David Michou, President, SSA Holdings International, Colon, Republic of Panama E-mail:
Section: Port Planning and Operations, pp. 1058-1067, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Ports 2010: Building on the Past, Respecting the Future
Abstract: Located on the Cai Mep River in southern Vietnam near Vung Tau, approximately 85 kilometers (53 miles) from Ho Chi Minh City and 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the South China Sea, the new SP-SSA International Terminal (SSIT) will be able to handle 1.5 million 20-foot equivalent units at buildout. In 2006, Vietnam was the fastest-growing economy in Southeast Asia at 7.8 percent for the year, and SSIT is being developed to ensure that Vietnam’s port infrastructure is adequate to sustain this growth. Master planning and bringing this modern container terminal online presented great challenges. The terminal’s 60-hectare (148-acre) site was an intertidal salt marsh covered with date palm, and geotechnical testing showed that the upper 45 meters (150 feet) of soils were poorly consolidated clays and would require substantial ground improvement. The first stage of construction reclaimed the site with approximately 3.5 million cubic meters (4.6 million cubic yards) of sand and 6.6 million meters (4,100 miles) of wick drains. Dredging and slope revetment constituted the second stage of construction. The project also constructed the marine works, consisting of a pile-supported quay capable of supporting multiple tandem-lift super post-Panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes and a pile-supported barge quay dedicated to supporting the barge traffic that prevails in Vietnam. The final stage of construction involves paving, utilities, and miscellaneous support buildings. Based on its current progress, the project will be complete and the terminal will be operational by January 2012. This paper describes the background, planning, design, and construction challenges involved in creating and implementing a master plan for a modern container terminal over a soft-soiled environment.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Marine terminals