The Port of Savannah handled record 4.2 million twent-foot equivalent containers (TEU) in its 2018 fiscal year for an impressive 8.4% increase year-over-year, Georgia Port Authority reported Monday.
The figure marks a new record the port and the first time in its history that it has handled more than 4 million TEU in a single year, ranking it the second busiest on the U.S. East Coast behind New York/New Jersery in terms of TEU throughput.
Georgia Port Authority’s Fiscal Year runs from July through June. In FY 2017, the Port of Savannah handled 3.85 million TEU.
“Moving more than 4 million TEUs in a single fiscal year is an important milestone for Georgia,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Georgia’s logistical advantages, along with the Southeast’s population growth, have resulted in increased demand, while the expanded Panama Canal has cleared the way for larger vessels to call Savannah.”
The GPA capped FY18 with its twentieth consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth. In its busiest June ever, the Port of Savannah handled 370,725 TEUs, up 9.8 percent (33,014 TEUs) compared to June 2017. It was the Authority’s 18th month in a row handling more than 300,000 TEUs.
“Outstanding effort from our GPA employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association, stevedores, trucking and rail personnel made it possible to exceed customer expectations and achieve record results,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “I cannot say enough about the partnership and can-do spirit of the Georgia maritime community.”
In addition, intermodal rail lifts surged to 435,000, an increase of 16.1%, or more than 60,000 additional moves, another record for the GPA.
“The market’s increasing recognition of Georgia as a rail hub for East Coast container trade reinforces our determination to double Savannah’s on-terminal rail lift capacity,” said Lynch. “The Port of Savannah is poised to capture new rail cargo across the state, the Southeast and well into the American Midwest.”
At its meeting Monday, the GPA board approved construction of an $8.8 million overpass, part of the $127 million Mason Mega Rail project that, upon completion, will allow 10,000-foot unit trains to be built on terminal. This will increase Savannah’s annual rail lift capacity to 1 million containers by 2020, cutting transit time to markets such as Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati by 24 hours.
In August, the GPA will open its Appalachian Regional Port, an inland rail terminal that will take 50,000 trucks off Georgia highways. Removing the need for a 710-mile roundtrip via truck, the ARP will improve container availability and reduce transportation costs for port customers in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Lynch also reported Monday that total cargo crossing all GPA docks in FY18 grew by 8 percent, or 2.6 million tons, to reach a record 36 million tons of containerized, breakbulk and bulk cargoes. Forest products at Mayor’s Point Terminal in Brunswick increased by 34.5 percent, up 35,953 tons, for a total of 138,653 tons. Machinery, as well as commodities such as rubber and paper, pushed the breakbulk total at Savannah’s Ocean Terminal to 1.35 million tons, up 10 percent or 122,305 tons compared to FY 2017.
In other business Monday, the GPA board approved the expansion of refrigerated cargo capacity at Garden City Terminal. The project will add 15 refrigerated container racks, accommodating a total of 360 additional containers. The Port of Savannah currently features 104 racks, holding 2,496 containers at a time.
The board also approved the purchase of 10 additional container handling machines, at a cost of $3.5 million.