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Port of Brunswick another success story for Georgia Ports

  • GPA’s Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick is the second-busiest port in the country for roll-on/roll-off cargo. (GPA photo by Stephen B. Morton
  • Colonel’s Island Terminal at the Port of Brunswick features three berths for the huge rolling cargo ships that serve both imports and exports. A fourth berth is in the works. (GPA photo)

For all the notoriety Savannah gets as the fourth largest and fastest growing container port in the country, we sometimes forget that Georgia Ports Authority has another impressive success some 100 miles down I-95.

The Port of Brunswick celebrated another milestone last month when International Auto Processing’s 6 millionth new auto import rolled down the ramp of the Eukor vehicle carrier Asian Parade on GPA’s Colonel’s Island Terminal.

Colonel’s Island is a major gateway for roll-on/roll-off cargo — both imports and exports — making Georgia Ports the second-busiest auto port in the country.

Auto processors and original equipment manufacturers are currently using some 600 acres on Colonel’s Island for their operations, which include performing quality checks, installing accessories and preparing vehicles for transportation to dealers.

Served by nine ocean carriers, Colonel’s Island features three modern Ro/Ro berths and four on-terminal auto processors, serving more than 60 auto and heavy equipment manufacturers.

The GPA board has approved $1.4M for permitting and design of a fourth berth to serve Ro/Ro vessels.

IAP, the first vehicle processor to set up shop on Colonel’s Island more than 30 years ago, recently extended its lease agreements with Georgia Ports to the end of 2025.

Just as GPA has been successful by staying 20 percent ahead of the demand curve at its container facility, ports executive director Griff Lynch sold his board on the idea of doing the same at Colonel’s Island, even though the business model is very different.

“Unlike our container port, we lease our Brunswick property to auto manufacturers, carriers and processors,” he said. “In the past, our position was to wait until we had a lease signed before developing a piece of property for a customer.

“But, as business has grown, it’s become more difficult to tell a customer who wants to start bringing machines through Brunswick, ‘Great! Sign this lease and your facility will be ready in a year.’

“That no longer works. So the board agreed to begin developing land that was not yet leased.”

The gamble has paid off so far, as most of the newly developed property has been snatched up, Lynch said.

The next step will be to close the aging and poorly performing agribulk facility on Colonel’s Island, making way for continuous Ro/Ro berthing, much like Garden City Terminal’s long stretch of container berths.

“Exports of soybeans and soybean meal at Colonel’s Island declined more than 21 percent last year,” Lynch said, noting that the facility exports no Georgia products.

“It’s smack dab in the middle of Ro/Ro operations. As a result of the aging of the facility and lack of opportunity for growth, we expect to close it by the end of 2018 and convert it to auto storage,” he said adding that the port will work with those remaining customers to make sure they have good exit strategies.

Date change for State of Port

If, like me, you didn’t get the memo, note that the 2017 State of the Port address, hosted by the Georgia Ports Authority and the Propeller Club, has been rescheduled for Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. Tickets are reportedly going fast for the always sold-out event that begins at 10:30 a.m. with a coffee bar and networking. The luncheon will be from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Cost is $75 per person in advance, $85 per person at the door (if available). Reserved tables of 10 are $750.

For tickets and information, visit gaports.com/stateoftheport.

Senior business reporter Mary Carr Mayle covers the ports for the Savannah Morning News and savannahnow. She can be reached at 912-652-0324 or at mary.mayle@savannahnow.com.

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Breakout Box: 

Following are the ships expected to call on Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City and Ocean terminals this week. Schedules are supplied by GPA and are subject to change.

TERMINAL VESSEL ETA

GCT MAERSK WEYMOUTH Today

GCT MUSTAFA DAYI Today

GCT NYK REMUS Today

GCT YORKTOWN EXPRESS Today

GCT NORTHERN MAJESTIC Today

GCT EVER LUCID Today

GCT MARGARETE SCHULTE Today

OT TUGELA Today

OT GRANDE GABON Today

GCT CMA CGM FIGARO Saturday

GCT MAERSK KOBE Saturday

GCT MSC KLEVEN Saturday

GCT CMA CGM AMBER Saturday

GCT CHARLESTON EXPRESS Saturday

GCT COSCO VIETNAM Saturday

GCT SUEZ CANAL Saturday

GCT SEASPAN THAMES Sunday

GCT MOL MOTIVATOR Sunday

GCT MAERSK SANTANA Sunday

GCT MSC VITTORIA Sunday

GCT TSINGTAO EXPRESS Monday

GCT AS MORGANA Monday

GCT MAERSK ATLANTA Monday

GCT MSC ANIELLO Monday

GCT MSC SPAIN Monday

GCT JULIETTE RICKMERS Monday

GCT CMA CGM MUSSET Tuesday

GCT MSC KARLSKRONA Tuesday

GCT NORTHERN MAGNUM Tuesday

GCT MAERSK SURABAYA Tuesday

OT TIJUCA Tuesday

OT BBC NAGASAKI Tuesday

GCT ZIM QINGDAO Wednesday

GCT PARISFAL Wednesday

GCT PACON Wednesday

OT INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH Wednesday

GCT YM MOVEMENT Thursday

GCT HONOLULU BRIDGE Thursday

GCT MOL EMPIRE Thursday

GCT EDISON Thursday

GCT MAERSK KAWASAKI Thursday

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