Historical sources say that the idea of connecting Bosnia and Herzegovina with the sea originated as early as the middle of the 19th century. The beginning of the construction of railways in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, began only during the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1878 to connect the interior with the then province of Dalmatia. In 1891, the railway line to Metković was completed, and at that time the possibilities of transport by line were about 600,000 tons per year.
In the 1920s, the Metković River Port, 25 km from the mouth of the Neretva River into the Adriatic Sea, was the second most important export port on the Eastern Adriatic coast.
However, it was quickly evident that the port of Metković would not meet all transport needs and in 1936 the decision was made to build a port in Ploče (then Aleksandrovo), and the following year a railway line from Metković to Ploce began to be built, which was completed in 1942.
Work on the construction of the new port began in 1939. The first quay was built in the length of 300 meters and was supposed to allow the docking of the two largest transatlantic ships. The beginning of The Second World War in 1941. slowed down, even stopped the work. After work began by German organizations primarily guided by a plan to transport bauxite from the hinterland of the port, the Italians continued intensive construction in the second half of 1942. By the middle of 1943, the Italians had built 410 meters of quay and installed one crane.
After the end of the war (1945), the demolished port capacities were reconstructed and the works on construction of the port of Ploče began, which took several decades. The port of Ploče and the railway to the interior were put into operation as early as July 15,1945. and this day represents the beginning of the operation of the port of Ploče for public traffic. Already in 1946, the port had 150,000 tons of traffic. Until 1951, grain and coal were imported through Ploce, and bauxite and wood were exported, and later the turnover of products of black metallurgy, chemical products, ores and wood and textile products gradually increased.
The company “Luka i skladišta” Ploče (“Port and Warehouses” Ploče) began to officially operate on January 18, 1952.
In 1958, the construction of the normal-gauged railway track Sarajevo-Ploče started, which was completed in 1966 with diesel traction, while the electrification was completed in 1969. The construction of this railway with a total length of 193.5 km acquired the conditions for the beginning of the occurrence of transit cargo from/for Hungary, Austria, Poland and the then Czechoslovakia.
In 1969 there was an integration of the companies “Luka Ploče” and ŽTP Sarajevo due to the matching of their goals, which contributed to a significant increase in traffic volumes. In the year of integration, traffic in the port of Ploče was 1,078,000 tons, and in 1977 it was already 2,950,000 tons. Such a rapid traffic growth was influenced primarily by the dynamic development of several large industrial companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular the Steel Factory in Zenica, KHK Lukavac and Aluminij Mostar, timber and processing industries. This fact also required the modernisation of port capacities and it resulted therefore in the intensive construction of port warehouses, terminals, silos, quays and the acquisition of cranes and other port machinery. The largest port traffic was achieved in the late 1980s when more than 4.5 million tons of various goods were manipulated through the port.
The war events in the Republic of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991-1996 resulted in the collapse of the economy and the disruption of railway and road communications between the sea and the interior, and the port was then operating at 5-10% of its capacity.
With the end of the war, and a little later after the Port Authority was established, the reconstruction of the port capacities began, as well as the recovery of part of the economy in the gravitational area of the port, which was reflected in the growth of port traffic during all recent years.