The Port of New Bedford is a deepwater port located at at the mouth of the Acushnet River on Buzzards Bay, with access to the Atlantic Ocean. It is in the harbor estuary on the southern coast of Massachusetts in New Bedford, Fairhaven and Acushnet.

Once a major whaling port, it is the largest commercial fishing port by value in the United States. It also handles breakbulk cargo. In the 21st century it is becoming an offshore wind port. The port is part of Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ #28), which also includes New Bedford Regional Airport.


Waterways and lighthouses

Butler's Flat Lighthouse

The port is at the estuary of the Acushnet River where it empties into Buzzards Bay and beyond that the Atlantic. It is approximately nine nautical miles from the Cape Cod Canal.

To the west of Clark's Point, site of Clarks Point Light is Clark's Cove, which extends landward approximately one and a half mile from the bay.

The Butler Flats Light is located in the outer harbor. Crow Island is in the middle harbor.

Environmental remediation and dredging

The harbor has ongoing environmental remediation through dredging and capping, largely focusing on removal of PCBs released into it during between the 1940s and 1970s.[1]

Road and rail

The New Bedford – Fairhaven Bridge carries U.S. Route 6 across the port at the north where it travels over Fish Island and Pope's Island. Between the two islands lies the central section of the bridge with a swing span that allows maritime passage to the upper harbor. Massachusetts Route 18 provides access to Interstate 195 and Massachusetts Route 24 via Massachusetts Route 140[2]

Massachusetts Coastal Railroad provides service to the port along the New Bedford Subdivision with connections to the national rail network via CSX Middleboro Secondary.

Hurricane barrier

Harbor from the barrier

Just south of Palmer's Island, beginning near Fort Phoenix in Fairhaven, is the harbor's hurricane barrier, built by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1960s. It is 9,100 feet long and twenty feet above median sea level, and is the largest stone structure on the East Coast. The harbor section has two 440-ton gates in the center that can be closed to protect the port during strong tides or storm surges. A walkway allows for pedestrian access.[3][4] In 2020, it was struck by a ship departing the harbor.[5]


The port was once the epicenter of the whaling industry in the US.[6] In the mid-1700s the port had become a whaling port and shipbuilding center. The Dartmouth, was launched in 1767. By the early 19th century, the port was one of the leading whaling ports in the world. In 1848, Lewis Temple invented a new type of harpoon that revolutionized the whaling industry, the city had significant control over whaling products used around the world, and it soon became one of the richest cities in the world. More than half of the United States' whaling fleet of over 700 vessels was registered at the Port of New Bedford, which played a prominent role in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. In the whaling disaster of 1871, 22 whalers from the port were lost off the coast of Alaska.[7] in 1914, J. & W. R. Wing Company sent out its last whaleship in 1914. The last whaling expedition left the port in 1925. The era is memorialized at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.


The fishing fleet

The port has been the fishing port with the highest value of fish landed in the United States since 2001.[8][9][10][11][12] There are several piers which service the fish and seafood industry.[13] Two are listed on Merrill's Wharf Historic District.

South Terminal

South Terminal has over 25 acres of marine industrial land, with a 1,600-linear foot bulkhead and depths of 20 feet, for offloading fish and seafood directly into the on-site processing plants where they are filleted, cleaned, and weighed, for shipment by truck and air freight.

Pier Linear feet of berthing space Number of Berths Number of Vessels Notes
Steamship Pier 1,300 15 50 NRHP
Leonard's 950 12 40
Fisherman's 940 9 30
Homer's Wharf 850 12 30
Coal Pocket Pier 260 4 10 NRHP


New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal

Marine Commerce Terminal during construction of Vineyard Wind 1.

The New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal is an offshore wind port under development by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (Mass CEC).[14][15] Since the ISO/IEC 17025 accredited Wind Technology Testing Center opened in 2011, the laboratory has run 35 blade testing programmes and hundreds of individual blade tests.[16] The quay site is being developed as the assembly area for the Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind projects.[17][18][19]

Foss Marine Terminal

The New Bedford Foss Marine Terminal is a planned new offshore wind facility to be built at the site of the New Bedford Gas and Edison Light Complex.[20][18][21]

North Terminal

The New Bedford North Terminal on the Acushnet River is being redeveloped.[18][22] [23] It has dockside connections to the rail network.[2]

State Pier

State Pier houses the terminals for Seastreak ferries to the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard and the ferry to Cuttyhunk Island.[24][25] There are plans to add offshore wind crew transfer and operations facility.[26]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier".
  4. ^ "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to Conduct Hurricane Barrier Maintenance - City of New Bedford Official Website".
  5. ^ Lennon, Anastasia E. (March 15, 2022). "Eyes on the Hurricane Barrier". The New Bedford Light.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Overview of American Whaling: Arctic Whaling". Archived from the original on November 10, 2011.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Staff, N. A. W. (November 20, 2012). "Massachusetts Offshore Wind Energy Hub Gets The Green Light". North American Windpower.
  15. ^ "New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal". Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  16. ^ "GE Renewable Energy to test massive turbine blade in US". Riviera Maritime Media. 24 October 2019.
  17. ^ Ford, Neil (19 May 2021). "US port spend brings offshore wind factories closer". Archived from the original on 21 May 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Robinson, Kate. "New Bedford Port Projects to Get $80 Million From State". 1420 WBSM.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Memija, Adnan (March 24, 2022). "Massachusetts to Get Another Offshore Wind Terminal".
  21. ^ Robinson, Kate. "New Bedford Offshore Wind Terminal Plans Take Shape". 1420 WBSM.
  22. ^ "Port of New Bedford Awards Contract for North Terminal Expansion - City of New Bedford Official Website".
  23. ^ Robinson, Kate. "Acushnet Firm Awarded $27.9 Million Contract for Port Project". 1420 WBSM.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^

41°37′25″N 70°55′0″W / 41.62361°N 70.91667°W / 41.62361; -70.91667