Last update:
October 30, 2009
Thu AlQe'da 11, 1430

Sea Maps and Sailing Instructions for Mariners Heading to Tripoli, Lebanon

Some of the information and photos appearing in this page are courtesy of The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (Bethesda, Maryland)

Source: Sailing Directions (Enroute): Eastern Mediterranean, 9th Edition, 2000

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  1. El-Mina: Parks, Quarters
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Tarabulus (Tripoli)

34 deg 27 min N, 35 deg 50 min E. - World Port Index No. 45025

Tarabulus (Tripoli), a large city, extends E of Al Mina and contains numerous high-rise buildings. The port complex fronts of the N shore of the city and consists of a harbor basin, protected by breakwaters at the W end, and an offshore tanker terminal at the E end. Deep-draft vessels frequently transfer cargoes to lighters in the roadstead close N of the harbor basin.

Winds - Weather

Port operations in the roadstead are usually suspended for up to 20 days from December through March as a result of N gales. During the rainy season (January and February), periods of intermittent rain may last up to 11 days.

Tides - Currents

The tidal rise is very small, being only 0.6m at springs. Tidal currents are weak and variable and are often hidden by surface currents generated by the wind.

The Seaport and the Free Area

It is the second largest port in Lebanon. It was re-founded in 1959 and a modest "free zone" was added to it in 1971. The seaport consists of a harbor for ships, seven 150-meters parking lots that include large stores, a harbor for fishing boats, and a free industrial area. Tripoli's seaport can receive seven ships at a time with a maximum load of 8,000 tons. Each year, the Tripoli seaport receives 1,200 ships with a total load of 1,800,000 tons. Strategically, the port has a good geographical situation since it is linked to a highway net work with the Arab countries. In addition, the harbor is safe from tides and waves all year round. Handling and lifting facilities for all kinds of cargo and containers are available. The recent implementation of computerized systems simplified bureaucratic work. Measures have been also taken recently to decrease the tariffs and fees collected at the Seaport. As for the advantages of the Tripoli Port Free Zone, they include: (1) Special encouraging legislation for investors, (2) actual area (open & closed) 150,000 m2, (3) project surface area as per plan 600,000 m2, (4) available parcels of 25000 m2 and its multiples for storage, transit, trade an light assembly industries, (5) modern infrastructure (electricity, water, telecommunication), (6) low fees, (7) high fences surrounding the complete boarder of the free zone, and (8) 24 hours/day security.

Depths - Limitations

The entrance fairway is about 150 m wide and has dredged depth of 9 m. A pier, 600-1000 m long, has two berths on its W side with depths of 8 to 10 m alongside. Vessels up to 150 m in length and 6.8 m draft can be accomodated alongside. The oil terminal has five offshore loading berths which lie in depths of 11.6 to 20.1 m. The berths consist of several mooring buyos and are connected to the shore by submarine pipelines. Berth No. 5 can handle tankers of up to 35,000 dwt with a maximum draft of 7.5 m draft; Berth No. 4 can handle tankers up to 25,000 dwt and 9.7 m draft; Berth No. 3 can handle tankers up to 87,000 dwt and 14.3 m draft; Berth No. 1 can handle tankers up to 140,000 dwt and 17 m draft; and Berth No. 2 can handle tanks up to 250,000 dwt and 18.3 m draft.

Future Plans

Tripolitans hope to have a devoted section in the harbour for ship repair and construction and to have a "Free Sea Zone" such as that present in Jabal Ali in Dubai (UAE). For this, some maintainance hangars, better equiped storage constructions, deeper sea floor, and larger harbor(s) are needed. Recently, plans to develop the port of Tripoli have been announced by the Ministry of transport, to expand the port of Tripoli by 1,200,000 square meters and to make it include refrigerated warehouses, buildings for light and assembly industries, and big size warehouses. The plan also aims at enlarging the quay length up to 2200 m and its draft up to 12 m of depth. At present, the Tripoli port authority has prepared a master plan with the leading French company (SOGREAH) to enlarge and rehabilitate the Tripoli port and its free zone.


Jabal Turbul, a round-topped peak, stands 6 miles of Al Mina. It is 681 m high and is an excellent landmark in clear weather. The tower of Barsbay (commonly known as Lions), 21 m high, stands near the root of the E breakwater. This tower is conspicuous and it is sometimes marked by a light. A prominent silo stands on the E breakwater. A rado tower, 74 m high, stands 0.3 mile WSW of the Tower of Barsbay (Lions). The Tripoli Citadel, a large castle, is situated on a hill, 60m high, in the S part of the city. Several flares, two radio towers, a signal station, and a large group of oil storage tanks are situated along the coast in the vicinity of the oil terminal. A lighted buoy is moored about 3.2 miles NE of the head of the W breakwater and marks the approach to the offshore berths.


Pilotage is compulsory. Pilots can be contacted by VHF and board about 2 miles NE of the head of the W breakwater. Vessels should send an ETA at least 48 hours in advance through Tarablus (Tripoli) (ODC8), and a confirmation 1 hour before arrival.


Anchorage is provided N of the harbor area. The S part of the roadstead, with depths of 11 to 14m, lies about 0.9 miles NNW of the outer head of the W breakwater. The N part of the roadstead, with depths of 14 to 35m, is used by ankers. In NE gales, anchorage can be taken in depths of 14 to 20m, sand, SW of Al Mina.


When approaching the roadstead from the S, vessels should give the W side of Jazeera (island) Ramkeen a wide berth when rounding the islet. A restricted area, which may be best seen on maps, lies the vicinity of the offshore oil berths. Several wrecks, some dangerous, lie in the approaches to the port complex.


(34 deg 27 min N., 35 deg 48 min E.), formed by a low promontory, is located 6 miles NE of Ras an Natur at the W side of Tarabulus. The coast between is fronted by rocks and shoals which extend up to about 1 mile, in places, from the ahore. A conspicuous convent stands on a hill, 4.2 miles SSW of Al-Mina.

Ramkeen Island (Jazeera)

(34 deg 30 min N., 35 deg 45 min E.) is the outermost of a chain of islets, rocks, and shoals which extends up to 3.8 miles NW of ElMina. A main light is shown from a structre, 5m high, standing at the W side of this islet. Sanani Channel, with a depth of 11m, leads through this chain of dangers 2 miles NW of ElMina. This passage has a fairway 0.3 mile wide, is unmarked, and is only used by small vessels with local knowledge.

Sailing Maps
Maritimal Map of Tripoli
Maritimal Map of Tripoli and its Islands.

Map of Tripoli and its Islands
Map of Tripoli and its Islands.

Map of the Tripoli Islands
Map of the Tripoli Islands.

The Coast of Tripoli
The Coast of Tripoli.

The seaport at ElMina
The seaport at ElMina.

The stores at the seaport at ElMina
The stores at the seaport at ElMina.

Detailed Map of the Palms Island in Tripoli.

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