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Georgia Ports caps record year with 17 percent container growth in June

Georgia Ports Authority continues to push the envelope at its Garden City container terminal, setting – and then breaking – records for containers moved.

In fiscal 2017, which ended June 30, the port handled an all-time high of 3.85 million TEUs – or 20-foot equivalent container units – marking an increase of nearly a quarter-million TEUs over FY2016.

While year-over-year growth in box numbers came in at a very respectable 6.7-percent, it was the second half of FY2017 that provided an indication of things to come.

Beginning in May with the arrival of the 13,000-plus TEU container ship, the COSCO Development, Garden City Terminal’s numbers have soared.

In the last half of FY2017 alone, the Port of Savannah handled nearly 2 million TEUs, for a growth rate of 11.6 percent over the same period last year.

“We could not have achieved this record-breaking year without the hard work and outstanding dedication of our employees,” GPA executive director Griff Lynch told his board Monday.

“Our volume growth continues to outpace forecasted demand. Shipping lines are moving 13,000- and 14,000-TEU vessels into service on the East Coast more quickly than anticipated, and concentrating their deliveries at efficient gateway ports like Savannah.”

In a vote of confidence that growth at the Garden City container terminal would continue to surge, the Port Authority board approved $72.75 million to purchase six more Neopanamax ship-to-shore cranes.

The new machines will arrive in 2020, and are in addition to a previous order of four cranes that will arrive at the end of the year and be operational beginning in April. The 10 additional cranes will bring GPA’s fleet to 36 and give it the ability to move more than 1,300 containers per hour across a single dock - a capacity unmatched by any other single terminal in North America.

“Phenomenal cargo growth on this scale is made possible by the strong partnership we enjoy with the International Longshoremen’s Association, the unwavering support of Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly, and the confidence our customers have in Georgia’s ports,” said GPA board chairman Jimmy Allgood.

In other business Monday, the authority board:

  • approved the lease of 38 acres at 202 Oxnard Drive, west of Garden City Terminal, with the option to all 57.7 acres of the property once pre-existing environmental issues with the non-leased portion of the property have been resolved.
  • agreed to extend a lease of land and improvements on Colonel’s Island to International Auto Processing through Dec. 31, 2025.
  • approved expenditures of up to $4.5 million for the first phase of a two-phase project to develop several parcels at Garden City Terminal, including 5.5 acres of asphalt paved container area behind the upriver berths and 17 acres of aggregate adjacent to Brampton Road.
  • OK’d a budget of $1.5 million for improvements to Warehouse 27 on Garden City Terminal, currently used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for cargo inspection at the ports. The expenditure is contingent upon GPA’s successful bid to continue to provide the warehouse for cargo inspection services.

Lynch also provided the following updates to the ongoing Savannah Harbor Expansion Project:

  • Sediment basin area – 71 percent complete (including removal of tide gate and embankments in Back River).
  • Entrance channel – 59 percent complete (dredging to resume in December, when hopper dredges are allowed).
  • Dissolved oxygen – 39 percent complete ((inner harbor dredging cannot begin until system is in place, tested and approved).
  • Raw water storage – 90 percent complete
  • CSS Georgia removal – 90 percent complete.

More Info

Breakout Box: 

GPA BY THE NUMBERS (JUNE)

337,710 - TEUs moved, a record and up 17.8 percent year-over-year

234,143 - truck moves, a record

17.3 percent - Ocean Terminal cargo up year-over-year

8.3 percent - Colonel’s Island autos up

$32.9 million - revenues, up 15.1 percent year-over-year

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