On 19 February 1706, Queen Anne (1665–1714) of Great Britain granted Free Port status to Gibraltar. However, in the early 18th century, Gibraltar was principally a garrison; the amount of commerce was negligible. Following the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, Gibraltar was established as a port for international trade. 1823 marked the appearance of the first steamship in Gibraltar and its gradual evolution to a bunkering port. The government-administered Gibraltar Port Authority was founded in 1806 and its successor, the independent Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA), was established in 2005 by the Gibraltar Port Authority Act. The Act of Parliament also provided for the transfer of some responsibilities from the Government of Gibraltar to the Authority.
Established in 2005, the Gibraltar Port Authority's strategy is to build on Gibraltar's unique geographical position and fiscal status and provide a vital link between all stakeholders to ensure a cohesive strategy aimed at achieving common goals in developing and improving the competitiveness and safe operation of the Port of Gibraltar. All operational matters including navigational safety and the smooth running of the Port are overseen by the Captain of the Port.