Port of Savannah Sets 8 Million TEU Capacity Goal by 2028

Garden City Terminal port of savannah
Containers and ship to shore cranes working vessels at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City Terminal, Thursday, Feb., 15, 2018, in Savannah, Ga. (GPA Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The Georgia Port Authority on Thursday unveiled a $2.5 billion plan to expand the capacity at the Port of Savannah to 8 million TEUs by 2028.

Georgia Ports Authority handled a record 4.2 million TEUs at Savannah’s Garden City Terminal in Fiscal Year 2018, representing an impressive 8.4% increase compared to 2017. The terminals current annual capacity is 5.5 million, making it the nation’s single largest container terminal.

The 10-year plan was unveiled by GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch during the “Savannah State of the Port” event held this week. Under the plan, the GPA will expand its ship-to-shore crane fleet from 30 to 42 cranes by 2028, which will include replacing the port’s older cranes so the entire fleet will accommodate vessels greater than 14,000 TEUs.

“We’re preparing to redefine the Port of Savannah as not simply the load center for the Southeastern U.S., but as the port of choice for major inland markets east of the Mississippi River,” said Lynch.

Bigger Ships, Deeper Harbor

Many projects to achieve the 8 million TEU goal are already underway. Work on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is expected to be finished in late 2021. “Thanks to Governor Deal’s leadership, U.S. Senator Isakson and Perdue, Congressman Buddy Carter and the entire Georgia delegation, the construction project is fully funded this year,” said Lynch.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study estimates the deepening’s net benefit in transportation savings for shippers and consumers at $282 million per year. 

As deeper water allows larger vessels to call on the Port of Savannah, the GPA, along with its state partners, will also be examining future infrastructure requirements, including air draft capacity of the Talmadge Bridge. Although no such vessels currently call on the US East Coast, the port could handle some vessels up to 19,000 TEU capacity.