The entrance to the Manchester Ship Canal is located at Eastham Locks on the Wirral peninsula, 21 nautical miles from the Liverpool Bar. The Canal follows the South side of the Mersey Estuary and, via another four sets of locks, provides a deepwater channel into the heart of Manchester. The Manchester Harbour Area includes the Queen Elizabeth II Dock, also at Eastham.
Today, the majority of shipping is connected with the refineries at Stanlow and Eastham, and the chemical plants at Runcorn. However, dry cargoes are still handled at various berths along the full length of the Canal and there is a regular container trade to Irlam. The Canal's owners, Peelports, are expected to develop the container trade further, with a new facility at Barton, 'Port Salford'.