Mtwara port is one of the three major ports managed by Tanzania Ports Authority. Others are Dar es Salaam and Tanga. The deep water port at Mtwara was built between 1948 and 1954. Development of the deep water port was accompanied by railway construction from Mtwara and Nachingwea. With the failure of the groundnut scheme, the railway line fell into disuse and is now defunct. The port however, continues to function but is underutilized.
The deep water quay is dredged to -9.5 metres chart datum.
There are no tidal restrictions for vessels entering and leaving the harbour, but there is an enforcement length restriction of 175 metres due to the shape of the channel, particularly the MSEMO SPIT area.
A sheltered anchorage exists in the inner bay (basin) with good holding ground of – 20 metres.
The basin can accommodate six vessels of 175 metres. The number of vessels can be increased if numerous shoal patches are removed.