Garden City Terminal infrastructure improvements at the Georgia Ports Authority's Port of Savannah Garden City Terminal, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Savannah, Ga. Photo: GPA/Stephen B. Morton

Port of Savannah Sets Monthly Cargo Record in November as Capacity Improvements Pay Off

Mike Schuler
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December 9, 2021

The Georgia Ports Authority says efforts to increase capacity at the Port of Savannah are paying off, with year-over-year growth continuing and the number of ships waiting at anchor falling.

In November, the Port of Savannah handled 495,750 TEU, a 6.7 percent increase over the previous year and a new monthly record for the Georgia Ports Authority.

Savannah has seen some of the worst port congestion in the country this year behind the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The port set its all-time record in October with 504,350 TEUs. With November’s numbers in, Savannah has now marked 16 consecutive months of record growth.

“I would like to acknowledge the incredible teamwork on and off our terminals that have made these results possible,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director. “Our employees along with Savannah’s stevedores, ILA members, truckers, river captains and many other transportation professionals have pulled together to handle record cargo volumes for an incredible 16 consecutive months. Off terminal, the willingness of our customers, two class one railroads and stakeholders in state and federal government, have allowed us to put into place innovative and effective supply chain solutions.”

But over the last six months, the GPA has undertaken a series of improvements designed to expand Savannah’s annual capacity by 25 percent. Already, 200,000 TEUs of container handling space have come online, with an additional 200,000 to be added in just three weeks. By March 2022, an additional 500,000 TEUs will be added, growing to a total of 1.6 million of new capacity by June.

The GPA is also expediting the completion of its Berth 1 expansion, adding 1 million TEUs of new berth capacity and eight ship-to-shore cranes at its docks. The project is now 30 percent complete and will come online at the end of Q2, 2023.

The GPA website showed just 13 containerships at anchor as of today, down from about two dozen ships at anchor in mid-October and 30 in mid-September as congestion peaked.

“Through the cooperation of our customers and the innovative thinking of our operations team, we’ve trimmed the number of boxes on terminal to allow for more efficient container handling and faster vessel service,” said GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten. “Additionally, crews are working every day to build the new container yard and dock space that will keep commerce flowing.”

Off-terminal, GPA has activated four flexible “pop-up” container yards near manufacturing and distribution centers. The sites in Atlanta, Savannah, Statesboro, and Murray County in Northwest Georgia bring cargo closer to customers and reduce the length of container storage time at the Port of Savannah. The GPA is also arranging additional sites, which will bring the total annual capacity for the off-port locations to 500,000 TEUs.

Savannah’s November numbers come as the Port of Long Beach just reported a 5% dip in the amount of cargo it moved in November, reflecting congestion that has bogged down the port during peak holiday shipping season.

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