July 11, 1974
The central government of India formally declared an artificial seaport in the section of the Gulf of Mannar along the city of Tuticorin (present-day Thoothukudi) to be one of the nation’s major ports. The all-weather Tuticorin Port was accorded this designation as a result of the exponential growth of maritime traffic and trade there in southeastern India, an area with a noteworthy seafaring heritage that dates back to ancient times.
Nearly five years after being declared a major port, Tuticorin Port was combined with a nearby minor port and reconstituted as the Tuticorin Port Trust. In 2011, the facility was renamed the V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust to honor a highly regarded national figure whose tireless efforts and leadership had helped pave the way for India’s independence from British rule..
A key contribution of Vallinayagan Olgantathan Chidambaram (1872-1936) to that longtime struggle for freedom involved helping to launch the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, one of the first indigenous Indian shipping services. This enterprise was established in 1906 as an act of both political and financial opposition and specifically to challenge the British India Steam Navigation Company’s iron grip on trade in the Indian Ocean region. The Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company’s ships routinely traveled between Tuticorin and Colombo, at the time the capital of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
The port bearing Chidambaranar’s name is now one of India’s 13 major ports, and it continues to play a pivotal role in international trade. It is the only port in south India to provide a direct weekly container service to the United States, for example. The V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust provides weekly direct services as well to China and Europe.
For more information on history of the V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust (originally Tuticorin Port), please check out https://www.vocport.gov.in/AboutUsImpMilestone.aspx