Haiphong, located in the northern part of Vietnam where the Red River Delta meets the South China Sea, is the second largest port in the country (after Saigon) and the third largest city (after Saigon and Hanoi. The population is estimated to be 1.7 million (2003)
History before the Vietnam War
For various political reasons, the more militarily critical areas of Haiphong were off-limits to U.S. bombing during most of the Vietnam War. There was much controversy over attacking the harbor, both because it was the main place where heavy shipments from the Soviet Union entered North Vietnam, but also where an attack that cause a direct U.S.-U.S.S.R. confrontation.
Eventually, it was mined during Operation LINEBACKER II in 1972, an operation that significantly increased the intensity of the bombing of military and economic targets, and is credited with forcing the North Vietnamese back to the Paris Peace Talks. The U.S. had accurately marked the positions of the mines, which were intelligent and could be disarmed; the two countries cooperated in clearing them after the peace agreement was signed.
After Vietnamese reunification
Haiphong, using one or more mechanisms including road, rail, inland waterway, sea or air, connects to all provinces in Vietnam. As a modern port, the sea route is often most preferred.
The Port of Haiphong
As of 2003, the port has 17 sheltered ship berths (i.e., piers/docks) and twelve mooring points not at pierside; the latter are commonly used for large ships with the transfer using lighter boats or pipelines. More are underconstruction There is extensive handling systems between the piers and landing areas for the moored ships, which connect to large storage yards and containerized warehousing.
Material handling includes fixed and mobile shoreside cranes, forklifts, overhead cranes, a floating crane, an automatic bagging machine and a computerized weighing station.
Inland transportation systems
National Highway 5 connects to the main north-south National Highway 1. Highway 1 goes to the northern provinces (Lang Son, Cao Bang, Lao Cai), and also to Hanoi, where there are road and rail links to Ho Chi Minh City.
Haiphong is the center of the river transportation system, which carries 40% of the cargo weight in northern Vietnam.
Rail links run through Hanoi and Lao Cai into southern China. The Hanoi-Haiphong line also connects to the north-south and other railroads.
Cat Bi airport can handle medium commercial aircraft of the Boeing 737/Airbus 329 class, and links to the international airports in Hanoi, Danang, and [Saigon]]; it is being improved to take larger aircraft.
Industrial and economic zones
Two such zones are operational, with at least 13 additional industrial parks planned.
Near Highway 5, this area has independent electrical power, water treatment, and good transporttion to the other zones.
This area is being developed into an additioal seaport, industrial park, export processing zone, and residential area.
There are five universities and colleges, two institutes of oceanography and marine research and 6 vocational training schools.