The Port of Savannah, Ga., handled more than 4 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in 2017, an 11% increase from the prior year and the port’s highest annual volume ever.
“This is the first time we’ve handled more than 4 million TEUs in a 12-month period, which is an important milestone for Savannah,” Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) executive director Griff Lynch said. “These numbers clearly show that Georgia has the fastest-growing and most critical port in the Southeast.”
For the month of December, GPA handled 323,000 TEUs, up 10.6%, or 31,000 TEUs -- making it the busiest December in GPA’s history.
“Savannah is double the size of the next largest port in the region, highlighting Georgia’s growing role as a gateway for American cargo,” Lynch said. “Similarly, there is no deepening project more significant in the nation at this time than the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal recently released his fiscal 2018 budget proposal, which allocates $35 million in additional support for the deepening project, bringing the total to $301 million in state funds. Currently, there are three dredges working in the Savannah River. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2021.
“We’d like to thank the governor and General Assembly for their full and complete support of the state share of the project, and we look forward to seeing the federal match with the upcoming release of the President’s budget and the appropriations process,” GPA board chairman Jimmy Allgood said. “Our federal delegation to Washington (D.C.) also deserves our appreciation for their tireless work in support of Savannah’s harbor expansion.”
At a recent GPA board meeting, Lynch reported that total trade for 2017 reached a record 35 million tons of cargo -- an increase of 3.8 million, or 12%.
Intermodal business at the Garden City Terminal improved by 18.8% in December, reaching nearly 65,000 TEUs moved by rail. GPA is scheduled to break ground on the Mason Mega Rail terminal in early spring. The project will double the Garden City Terminal’s rail lift capacity to 1 million containers per year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
“What sets Savannah apart is its ability to grow capacity, increase cargo and do it in an efficient manner without congestion,” Allgood said. “Our team at Georgia Ports, along with our logistics partners in Savannah and Brunswick, have truly pulled together to achieve great things. We will continue to do so as the GPA improves its infrastructure to take on new business.”
As part of GPA’s ongoing efforts to expand capacity, the board approved a $3.5 million expenditure to update four of its older ship-to-shore cranes to operate with greater speed and efficiency. In November, the Port of Savannah received four Neopanamax cranes. Another six will arrive in 2020, expanding the port’s fleet to 36 cranes and allowing the port to move nearly 1,300 containers per hour over a single dock.
It was also reported to the board that container exports outpaced imports in December. Loaded export boxes rose 13.3%, while loaded import containers grew at a rate of 11.2% year over year. Of the 323,117 TEUs in December cargo, export TEUs accounted for 52% of trade for the month, while imports accounted for 48%.
Container tons increased by 310,654 tons to reach 2.48 million in December, an increase of 14.3% compared to the same month in 2016. For the year, total container tonnage reached 30.04 million, 52.6% of which was export cargo and 47.4% import cargo.