November another record month for Port of Savannah

The Port of Savannah set a new monthly volume record for November, handling 495,750 twenty-foot equivalent units. This is a 6.7% increase from November 2020, the Georgia Ports Authority said Thursday.

The increase comes as GPA has been seeking to ramp up annual capacity at the Port of Savannah by 25% in order to accommodate additional import volumes.

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)

In less than six months, about 200,000 TEUs of container handling space have come online, and an additional 200,000 TEUs will be added in the next three weeks, GPA said. The port authority expects another 500,000 TEUs to come online in March 2022. By June, a total of 1.6 million TEUs of new capacity is anticipated to be available.

“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,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a statement. “Off terminal, the willingness of our customers, two Class I railroads and stakeholders in state and federal government have allowed us to put into place innovative and effective supply chain solutions.”

Expansion plans come as shippers and other stakeholders have turned to the East Coast ports to avoid the heavily congested Southern California ports. But in doing so, backups have also occurred at some of the East Coast ports, with the Port of Savannah reporting backups of its own.

As of Monday, there were 13 vessels at anchor outside the port, according to GPA’s website. This is down from 15 vessels on Nov. 29. The number of vessels anchored outside the Port of Savannah reached as high as 24 in late October and early November.

FreightWaves reported Tuesday on GPA’s efforts to reduce backlogs by using “pop-up” container yards. There are four such yards near manufacturing and distribution centers in Atlanta, Savannah, Statesboro and Murray County in northwest Georgia, with additional sites being arranged, GPA said Thursday.

GPA anticipates the pop-up yards, aimed at reducing the length of container storage time at the Port of Savannah and bringing containers closer to customers, will have an annual capacity of up to 500,000 TEUs.

“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.” (Source: Freight Waves)

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