port of savannah

The 14,000-TEU ONE Wren and five other vessels call on the 1,345-acre Garden City Terminal at the Port of Savannah. Photo: Georgia Ports Authority

Port of Savannah to Expedite Capacity Expansion as Congestion Builds

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2739
September 28, 2021

The Georgia Ports Authority Board approved more than $34 million to help expedite an additional 1.6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units in capacity to the Port of Savannah that will begin coming online in December.

The news comes on the heels of reporting the second busiest month in the port’s history in August thanks to the pandemic-fueled imports boom. The high volumes has created a containership traffic jam off port, the worst on the U.S. East Coast. Maersk on Monday called the situation in Savannah “increasingly challenging” as congestion picks up, with more than 30 ships at anchorage and wait times upwards of 7 days as of mid-September.

“In three months, this investment will begin to deliver the additional capacity we need to better accommodate increased volumes and demand for our services,” said Griff Lynch, executive director for the GPA.

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

Part of the approved expenditures included the purchase of 22.2 acres adjacent to GPA’s 145-acre West Expansion property. The board also provided funds to begin developing another 18 acres of land adjacent to GPA’s 60-acre Peak Capacity project, currently under construction. In total, the developments will add 230 acres of container handling space, coming online in phases with full completion in 2023.

“The GPA’s expansion strategy will not only maintain Savannah’s position as the hub port of the U.S. Southeast, but strengthen its ability to drive economic growth and private investment for communities across Georgia,” said Joel Wooten, GPA’s chairman of the board. “In light of unprecedented demand, it is incumbent on the Board to maintain our ports to promote job growth for the state.”

The Port of Savannah handled 485,595 TEUs in August, an increase of 10 percent, or 44,000 TEUs over the same month last year, which was the previous high for August. It was the second busiest month in GPA history, after only March 2021, when Garden City Terminal handled 498,000 TEUs.

Annually, the Port of Savannah handled about 5.3 million TEU in its FY2021, which ran June to July, another new record and up 20 percent or nearly 900,000 TEUs compared 2020. This puts it second behind the Ports of New York & New Jersey on the U.S. East Coast in terms of annual TEU throughput.

“I would like to thank our Board of Directors for their confidence in our ability to grow our existing terminals; our customers for sticking with us and, in many cases, increasing their commitment to Georgia’s ports; and to the men and women working throughout the supply chain, and especially GPA’s employees, I want to thank you for your hard work and dedication during unprecedented times in our industry,” said Lynch.

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