The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has announced it has achieved record container volumes in 2015; Executive Director Curtis Foltz reported to the GPA board on January 25, 2016.
Over the last calendar year, the Port of Savannah moved an all-time high 3.73 million 20-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 391,356 TEUs, or 11.7% compared to CY2014.
“The expansion was fueled in part by heightened demand in the US Southeast, Savannah’s logistical advantages drawing new customers to Georgia, and cargo diverted from the West Coast,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.
Total tonnage across all terminals reached a record 31.48 million tons in CY2015, an increase of 1.09 million tons, or 3.6%. Container tonnage accounted for most of that growth, adding 991,031 tons (up 4%), for a total of 25.81 million tons. Bulk cargo added 60,705 tons (up 2.2%) to reach 2.86 million, while breakbulk cargo grew 1.7%, or 47,358 tons, to reach 2.79 million tons.
Also at the meeting Monday, the board approved the purchase of four new ship-to-shore cranes for the Port of Savannah, bringing the total number to 30.
“With today’s decision, the Georgia Ports Authority will make a $47 million investment in order to maintain the highest level of service for port customers,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “Even before the new cranes arrive, Savannah has more cranes on its nearly two-mile long dock than any other single terminal in North America.”
Currently featuring 22 ship-to-shore cranes, Savannah’s Garden City Terminal will add four cranes this year as previously purchased machines are put into service. The cranes purchased at the board’s direction today will arrive in the late spring of 2018. The additions are part of the board’s Focus 2026 Capital Plan, which calls for 34 ship-to-shore cranes at Garden City Terminal.
Designed by Konecranes of Finland and assembled in Nantong, China, these machines can reach across vessels 22 containers wide and lift cargo weighing up to 72 tons to a height of 152 feet above the dock. Each crane weighs 1,388 tons and measures 433 feet wide and 185 feet tall.
The crane purchases, along with the ongoing Savannah Harbor deepening, anticipate a move in the world fleet toward larger ships. The average vessel calling on the US East Coast is shifting from a capacity of 4,500 20-foot equivalent container units to more than 10,000 TEUs. An expanded Panama Canal will open to these larger vessels this year, providing an important new route for the more efficient ships. The larger vessels offer more than 30% savings on shipping costs.
In other business, the board approved $8.2 million for Phase III of construction of a new empty container depot.
“Georgia’s deepwater ports achieved an outstanding year in 2015 with the hard work of our employees and partners in labour, shipping, trucking and rail,” said GPA Board Chairman James Walters. “By adding a truck gate, container yard space, container handling equipment and ship-to-shore cranes, the GPA is maintaining capacity ahead of demand to ensure efficient cargo movement.”