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Record July Puts Port of Savannah on Pace for 6 Million TEUs

Mike Schuler
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August 8, 2022

The Port of Savannah continues to see “unprecedented” cargo volumes as it continues to pick up diverted capacity from the U.S. West Coast.

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) announced Monday that July’s cargo volumes came in at 530,800 TEU, for an increase of 18% compared to last year. The number sets a new all-time monthly record, surpassing the previous record set in May 2022 by about 12,000 TEU.

Since January, the Port of Savannah has moved 3.4 million TEU, up 231,400 TEU or 7% over its record performance in 2021 when Savannah moved 5.6 million TEU. July volumes put the Port of Savannah on pace to move more than 6 million TEUs per year.

“The Port of Savannah has clearly become a preferred East Coast gateway for shippers globally, including cargo diverted from the U.S. West Coast,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Our expedited infrastructure projects, extended gate hours and the outstanding work of our employees and partners are key to our ability to move cargo at a record pace.”

As Xeneta’s Peter Sand noted in a ocean freight market update last week, some U.S. East Coast ports have a become a victim of their own success as ocean freight capacity and volumes continue to shift from the U.S. West Coast to the East Coast, driving congestion in places like Savannah and New York. Current numbers from the GPA show 39 ships waiting at anchor, up from zero in February and single digits in May.

Lynch noted that Savannah’s container operation is growing to deftly accommodate increasing capacity needs. The GPA is set to grow annual berth capacity from 6 million to 7.5 million TEUs by next year, and 9 million TEUs by 2025.

GPA anticipates spending $4.5 billion over the next 12 years to expand its container-handling capabilities. Current infrastructure projects include eight new ship-to-shore cranes, with the first four arriving in February and the next four arriving by the end of 2023. Additionally, another “big ship” berth at Garden City Terminal is 60 percent complete, with the improvements slated to come online in July 2023. The improved berth will add 1.4 million TEUs of berth capacity, while the Garden City Terminal West project will add another 1 million TEUs of container yard capacity in phases during 2023 and 2024.

“While the global logistics network has been challenged over the past two years, our message to customers is that at GPA, we’re continuing to build and expand,” said GPA Chairman Joel Wooten. “We’re moving forward with an aggressive plan to enhance our terminal operations and improve the rail connectivity to major commercial and manufacturing centers.”

To better suit the needs of truck drivers, the GPA has shifted operations to start two hours earlier, with gates now open from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. without interruption. Since the new hours were implemented on Aug. 1, the port has seen 3,000 transactions completed in the 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. time block.

Lynch also commended Gateway Terminals and local members of the International Longshoremen Association, including the clerks and checkers as well as maintenance and repair workers, for keeping the truck gates fluid, and the containers and chassis in working order. The Port of Savannah’s gate operations averaged 15,000 truck moves per weekday in July, including both import and export transactions.

“Our partnership with GPA allows us to optimize efficiency for a continuous flow of containers to foreign markets and to the factories, distribution centers and retail outlets that serve our nation’s economy,” said Kevin Price, president of Gateway Terminals. “The tremendous demand for services from Georgia Ports is a testament to the customer-centered drive that is at the heart of all our efforts.”

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