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Georgia Ports focuses on container shipping, transforming Ocean Terminal

The board of Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has approved a plan to renovate and realign the docks at the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal aiming to better accommodate its expanding container operations.

“For nearly 40 years, Ocean Terminal has been handling a mix of container ships and breakbulk vessels. The realignment is part of a broader effort to transform the terminal into an all-container operation, shifting most breakbulk cargo to the Port of Brunswick,” explained Griff Lynch, executive director of GPA.

The port authority’s plans are to shift breakbulk cargo carried by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean to Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick. Construction has started on over 33,000 m² of dockside warehousing that will serve auto processing, as well as three additional buildings and more than 340,000 m² of auto storage space on the south side of the island.

The Ocean Terminal facility will be modified in two phases. Work will begin with rebuilding the docks to provide over 853 metres of berth space, capable of serving two big ships simultaneously, while the docks will be served by new ship-to-shore cranes.

GPA Board also expanded its crane purchase by one, for a total of eight cranes slated for Ocean Terminal.

“As the dock construction progresses, GPA will continue to operate container ships at Ocean Terminal,” noted Ed McCarthy, chief operating officer at Georgia Ports.

According to GPA’s announcement, apart from new cranes and berth enhancements, the overall project will bring expanded gate facilities and paving to allow for 1.5 million TEUs of annual capacity. Wharf renovations are scheduled to start in January 2023, with the completion of the entire terminal redevelopment expected after three years.

In the meantime, the port of Savannah has achieved its busiest October ever, in which it handled nearly 553,000 TEUs.

Port officials expect container volumes to decline towards the end of the year. Lynch said the opening of a new container berth at Garden City Terminal next summer and volume declining from historic highs will help expedite vessel service, which saw backlogs during the height of demand.

“While we are beginning to see an anticipated market correction, it is important that GPA move forward with projects like the Ocean Terminal enhancements to accommodate business growth,” stated GPA board chairman, Joel Wooten.

Source: Container News


Savannah port surpasses 1.5 million TEUs in three-month period

Port of Savannah handled 1.5 million TEUs in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2023 (July-September 2022), which is an increase of 9.6% over the same period last year.

Griff Lynch, Georgia Port Authority (GPA) executive director, said that the high number of ad hoc vessel calls, the addition of three new Mediterranean services, and one new service to Asia were key factors for that growth.

However, GPA said that shift in consumer spending and inflation pressures are expected to moderate demand for port services in the next months. “While we have seen powerful growth across the first quarter, we are beginning to see signs of correction in the market,” noted.

He added that September box volumes decreased by 7.6% compared to the same month last year, falling to 436,279 TEUs.

GPA pointed out that a nearly three-day suspension of vessel service related to Hurricane Ian impacted September volumes at the US port.

The Port of Savannah expects to clear the need for vessels to wait at anchor by the end of November, while currently, approximately 204,600 containers are on the water headed for Savannah, down from a high of 262,500 in July.

Meanwhile, in intermodal rail, GPA grew lifts 6.4% in the three-month period from July to September. Counting all rail cargo moved through Garden City Terminal, the Appalachian Regional Port and GPA’s pop-up container yards, rail lifts totaled nearly 146,000, translating to an increase of 8,775 lifts.

“We are expecting a gradual easing in demand based on several factors, including a shift in the balance of consumer spending away from goods and back to services, and the impact of inflation on the economy,” stated GPA board chairman, Joel Wooten.

Source: Container News


Port of Savannah crosses 1 million TEU mark in two months

In the busiest month in its history, the Georgia Ports Authority handled 575,513 TEUs in August, translating to an increase of 18.5% over the same month last year.

Counting the July volume of 530,800 TEUs, the Port of Savannah’s August performance made for the fastest period in which the port has cleared the 1 million-TEU mark in a fiscal year.

“The Port of Savannah’s geographic and capacity advantages remain a driving force behind current and new customers deciding to move cargo through Georgia,” said GPA executive director, Griff Lynch.

The port’s intermodal volumes, including operations at Garden City Terminal and the Appalachian Regional Port, totaled nearly 51,700 rail lifts in August, up by more than 4,000 lifts compared to the same month in 2021.

“The investments we have made in our operating infrastructure have been paying off in our ability to handle the sustained influx of business that began two years ago,” said GPA chairman Joel Wooten, who added, “Combined with a deeper harbor, our improved rail capabilities and expanded container yard space have allowed GPA to maintain fluid cargo management.”

It is important to note that around a year earlier, in November 2021, GPA commissioned the final nine of 18 working tracks on its Mason Mega Rail Terminal, increasing rail capacity by 30%.

While the Port of Savannah continues to work through a vessel backlog, Lynch noted imports on the water are trending downward compared to July, when there were 265,000 containers destined for Savannah. Today, that number is 223,460 boxes on the water. Lynch said the number of vessels at anchor will dwindle over the next six weeks, and a more permanent solution will come online in June 2023, when improvements to Container Berth 1 at Garden City Terminal are completed.

Work to realign the berth is now more than 60% complete, according to the port’s statement, while the improvement will provide space for another big ship berth, allowing the Port of Savannah to simultaneously serve four 16,000 TEU vessels, as well as three additional ships.

“By this time next year, an additional big ship berth in Savannah will have increased our ability to move containers on and off vessels by 1.4 million TEUs per year,” commented Wooten.

In a related project, GPA has ordered eight new ship-to-shore cranes, set to be commissioned in December 2023. Additionally, work has begun on the Garden City Terminal West Expansion Phase II, which is expexted to add 90 acres (364,217 m²) of container storage space to be supported by 15 electric rubber-tired gantry cranes.

The project will add 1 million TEUs of annual container handling capacity, coming online in phases in 2023 and 2024.

Source: Container News


Georgia Ports Authority reports 530,800 TEU in July

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has announced that the port of Savannah handled 530,800 TEU in July, which represents a 18% increase compared to the same month in 2021.

Since January, GPA has seen 3.4 million TEU, translating to a growth of 231,400 TEU or 7% compared to 2021 same period figures.

“The Port of Savannah has clearly become a preferred East Coast gateway for shippers globally, including cargo diverted from the US West Coast,” said GPA executive director, Griff Lynch, who went on to add, “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.”

GPA has shifted operations to start two hours earlier, with gates now open from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. (local time) without interruption. Since the new hours were implemented on 1 August, the port has seen strong adoption from drivers, with 3,000 transactions completed in the 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. time block over the past week.

Port of Savannah’s gate operations averaged 15,000 truck movements per weekday in July, including import and export transactions.

Lynch noted that Savannah’s container operation is growing to meet the growing needs of existing and future customers.

GPA has eight new ship-to-shore cranes on order, with the first four arriving in February and the next four arriving by the end of 2023. Also, another large ship berth at the Garden City Terminal is 60% complete, with improvements scheduled to come online in July 2023.

The improved berth will add 1.4 million TEU of berth capacity, while the Garden City Terminal West project will add another 1 million TEU of container yard capacity in phases during 2023 and 2024.

Georgia Ports Authority will increase annual berth capacity from 6 million to 7.5 million TEU by next year and 9 million TEU by 2025. The GPA plans to spend US$4.5 billion over the next 12 years to expand its container handling capabilities.

“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,” he pointed out.

Source: Container News