Container Tons Surge More Than 14 Percent
The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) saw its busiest February ever for total cargo, moving 2.94 million tons across all docks last month – a 10 percent increase over February 2016, and second only to January’s 3.01 million tons.
Savannah Port - Image courtesy of GPA
Container tonnage was a leading factor in the growth, expanding by 14.4 percent (314,832 tons) to more than 2.5 million tons for the month. Measured in twenty-foot equivalent units, containerized trade grew by 7.7 percent to reach 330,539 TEUs.
“Ocean carriers have recognized the Port of Savannah as the must-call port to serve the Southeastern U.S.,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch reported to the Authority Board Monday. “With the coming realignment of the shipping alliances in April, Savannah will offer more container services than any other East Coast or Gulf port, at 35 weekly vessel calls.”
Lynch said Savannah’s Ocean Terminal also achieved significant growth in February, with a 9.2 percent increase in breakbulk cargo for the month, led by linerboard, iron and steel, and autos.
“A 38 percent increase in iron and steel is a good leading indicator of future growth in construction, as well as automobile and other manufacturing,” he said.
Additionally, the ports chief noted that this week Garden City Terminal in Savannah will commission a new Neo-Panamax ship-to-shore crane, with three more set to come online by mid-April. A separate, $45.3 million order will bring four more cranes to the terminal in 2018, for a total of 30.
These cranes are necessary to serve the larger vessels calling on Savannah. In the six months prior to the late June 2016 opening of the expanded Panama Canal, Garden City Terminal had hosted no vessels with a capacity of 10,000 or more TEUs. From July through December 2016, the Port of Savannah received 31 calls from 10,000+ TEU vessels – matched only by Norfolk and New York-New Jersey on the U.S. East Coast.
“As our business expands, we are investing in the infrastructure that supports that growth so that we can continue to fulfill our mission of supporting American exports and bringing new industry to Georgia,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood.
In other business, the GPA Board approved a power grid upgrade to provide greater resiliency and capacity for electric-powered equipment at Garden City Terminal. Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy said the Port of Savannah’s continuing shift away from diesel saves the authority millions of dollars annually in energy costs and avoids tons of diesel emissions.