Eight cranes begin work on the 13,000 TEU container ship Ulsan Express at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City Terminal, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, in Savannah, Ga. (GPA Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Another Record Month for Port of Savannah as Shipping Logjam Eases

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2093
February 9, 2022

Georgia Ports Authority’s Port of Savannah handled a record 479,700 TEU in January as capacity improvements and “pop-up” container yards have to reduce the shipping logjam.

January’s cargo volumes represent an increase of 4 percent over the same month a year ago, when cargo volumes expanded by 22 percent from before the pandemic-driven import surge. The Port of Savannah has now set monthly records for the past 18 months.

“The steps we have taken to add capacity have broken the logjam in global logistics for our customers and created jobs throughout the supply chain” said Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Griff Lynch. “The dedication and hard work of our GPA employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), and our other partners throughout the logistics community have also played a key role to keep cargo flowing.”

Over the last 18 months, the Port of Savannah has grown its container volumes by 1.2 million TEUs, including more than 930,000 TEUs in 2021 alone.

It’s been quite a turnaround for Savannah since peak congestion experienced there last fall. Figures released by the Georgia Ports Authority on Wednesday showed just three ships at anchor outside the Port of Savannah, down from a peak of around 30 in mid-September.

port of savannah containerships at anchorage
A screengrab of AIS data from MarineTraffic.com shows the traffic jam of containerships at anchorage off the Port of Savannah. Taken September 28, 2021. Courtesy MarineTraffic.com

To help relieve congestion, GPA has activated five off-terminal “pop-up” container yards near manufacturing and distribution centers, the most recent being the 330-acre CCX Yard in Rocky Mount, N.C., which is owned and operated by CSX. Four other pop-up facilities are located near manufacturing and distribution centers in Savannah, Atlanta, Statesboro and the Appalachian Regional Port.

Combined, the yards add 410,000 TEUs of additional container space, bringing cargo closer to customers and reducing the amount of storage time at Savannah’s Garden City Terminal.

“The success of our inland pop-up yards has provided an excellent pressure relief valve and reduced the number of containers at the Port of Savannah,” said GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten. “In combination with the on-terminal storage capacity that we continue to expand, our customers can be assured of the fast, reliable, world-class service they have come to expect from Georgia Ports.”

According to a recent economic impact study by the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, port activity supports one job for every 10 TEUs moved each year, or an additional 93,000 full- and part-time jobs throughout Georgia in 2021. GPA alone grew by 145 employees last year. “It has been an inspiration to see how our team, the ILA and so many others in the supply chain have been ramping up the workforce with highly skilled and dedicated team members,” Lynch said.

In 2021, the Port of Savannah moved a record 5.6 million TEU, for an increase of about 20% compared to 2020.

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