Port of Savannah breaks another record for containers, says plans are in place to deal with supply chain issues

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

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Ports Authority reports 16 months of consecutive growth at the Port of Savannah, indicating that another monthly record was broken in November.

Officials says the Savannah facility handled 495,750 twenty-foot equivalent container units in November, a 6.7 percent increase over the previous year. They say that’s a new monthly record for the Georgia Ports Authority. (A twenty-foot equivalent container is about the size of a railroad car.)

“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.”

Because of a backlog in goods created by the pandemic, the GPA has dealt with supply chain issues and about two months ago, several dozen ships began lining up in the ocean waiting for a chance to get to the port to unload containers.

Now officials say in less than six months, the GPA has designed and is beginning to implement what it terms an “ambitious series of improvements” that will increase the Port of Savannah’s annual capacity by 25 percent. So far, extra container handling space (for up to 200,000 TEUs) has been added and an additional 200,000 are set to be added in about three weeks.

The Port says that by next month, it will add capacity for an additional 500,000 TEUs.

GPA announced previously it is expediting the completion of its Berth 1 expansion which will add
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 sometime in 2023.

“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.”

On other sites, 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 are expected to bring cargo closer to customers and reduce the length of container storage time at the Port of Savannah.

“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,” said Lynch.

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