Tuticorin has been a centre for maritime trade and pearl fishery for more than a century. The natural harbour with a rich hinterland, activated the development of the Port, initially with wooden piers and iron screw pile pier and connections to the railways. Tuticorin was declared as a minor anchorage port in 1868. Since then there have been various developments over the years.
Tuticorin became the citadel of the freedom struggle in the early 20th century. In 1906, one of the greatest freedom fighters of India, Mr. V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, launched the first swadeshi ship S.S. Gaelia" in British India.
After Independence, the minor Port of Tuticorin witnessed a flourishing trade and handled a variety of cargo meant for the neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka, Maldives etc. and the coastal regions of India.
To cope with the increasing trade through Tuticorin, the Government of India anctioned the construction of an all-weather Port at Tuticorin. On July 11,1974, the newly constructed Tuticorin Port was declared as the 10th major port 1st April 1979, the erstwhile Tuticorin minor Port and the newly constructed Tuticorin major Port were merged and the Tuticorin Port Trust was constituted under the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
Tuticorin Port is an artificial deep-sea harbour formed with rubble mound type parallel breakwaters projecting into the sea for about 4 km. (Length of North breakwater is 4098.66 m, length of South breakwater is 3873.37 m and the distance between the breakwaters is 1275m). The Port was designed and executed entirely through indigenous efforts. The harbour basin extends to about 400 hectares of protected water area and is served by an approach channel of 2400 metres length and 183 metres width.