Port of Savannah Welcomes Largest Ship Yet

The ZIM vessel Tianjin transits the Savannah River channel on March 18, 2015. Photo: Georgia Ports Authority
The ZIM vessel Tianjin transits the Savannah River channel on March 18, 2015. Photo: Georgia Ports Authority

The Georgia Ports Authority welcomed the largest ship ever to call on the Port of Savannah this week when the ZIM Tianjin docked at Garden City Terminal.

The ship measures 1,145 feet long by 150 feet wide and can carry 10,000 TEUs. The vessel’s route originated in Qingdao, China, arriving on the U.S. East Coast via the Suez Canal.

“This 10,000-TEU vessel represents the future of U.S.-Asia shipping,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz. “The Tianjin is another example of a growing trend in the ocean carrier business toward larger, more efficient vessels.”

During its time at dock, GPA crews will move more than 2,000 containers on and off the ship.

“The port call by the ZIM Tianjin is another example of the strong and long standing professional relationship between GPA and ZIM,” said ZIM Vice President Brian Black. “We are very excited to have the largest vessel call Savannah!”

Photo: Georgia Ports Authority
Photo: Georgia Ports Authority

Foltz said ships in the Tianjin’s class provide lower cost per container slot for cargo owners – reducing the expense of delivering goods to customers at home and abroad. “The economy of scale achieved by Super Post-Panamax vessels is the reason we’re seeing more of them in Savannah, a trend that will only continue after an expanded Panama Canal opens in 2016.”

In order to better accommodate Super Post-Panamax vessels, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will deepen the main river channel to 47 feet at low tide (averaging 54 feet at high tide). This month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a $134.5 million contract that will mark the start of dredging. The contract covers deepening the outer harbor, extending 18.5 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

Dredging the outer harbor constitutes about half of the project to deepen the 40-mile shipping channel and harbor from deep ocean to Garden City.

Georgia has approved $266 million in bonds to cover the state’s projected share of construction costs. As the $706 million expansion moves forward, construction funding will shift to federal dollars. Better accommodating larger vessels such as the Tianjin will save U.S. companies moving goods through Savannah 20 to 40 percent on transportation.

The Tianjin’s next stop is Kingston, Jamaica.