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Port of Savannah bounces back from Irma to welcome 14,000-TEU John Adams

  • Cranes and crews work the massive, 14,000-TEU ship CMA CGM John Adams on Thursday as the Port of Savannah returns to business as usual. (GPA photo)
  • Cranes and crews work the CMA CGM John Adams on Thursday, the latest 14,000-TEU ship to call on the Port of Savannah (GPA Photo)

Talk about coming back in style.

After having to close for five days during Hurricane Matthew due primarily to damage to navigational aids — the Georgia Ports Authority bounced back from Hurricane Irma almost immediately, bringing in its first ship Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the storm passed.

On Wednesday, the port worked eight ships, including the CMA CGM John Adams, a 14,000-plus TEU sister ship to the Theodore Roosevelt, the largest ship ever to call on the U.S. East Coast.

The Roosevelt came in to Garden City Terminal earlier this month.

“We were incredibly fortunate with Irma in that water came right up to the docks but didn’t overflow,” GPA executive director Griff Lynch said. “And the work we did on the front end of the storm really paid off – we didn’t have a single container blown over.”

The next few days are expected to be especially busy as ships that couldn’t come into port last weekend join regularly scheduled vessels in the queue.

This weekend alone will be a shipwatchers’ delight, with 14 vessels due in Saturday and 12 on Sunday.

Some 100 miles to our south, the Coast Guard reopened the Port of Brunswick Wednesday afternoon, urging mariners to transit with caution due to the possibility that aids to navigation discrepancies or other hazards may still exist.

GPA spokesman Robert Morris said Thursday the port was fully operational, with three car carriers working on Colonel’s Island.

SHEP permitting delayed

A contract solicitation for an environmental mitigation piece of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on July 6 was rescinded Aug. 30, when the South Carolina Savannah River Maritime Commission and the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control failed to approve a requested modification in time for work to begin this fall.

The move could delay a contract award for as much as a year.

At issue was a request for changes in a plan to reduce impacts of increased salinity in upper harbor tidal creeks, said Corps spokesman Russell Wicke.

“The changes are positive ones that will increase freshwater flows, directing more freshwater into the Back River area on the South Carolina side of the estuary and protecting freshwater wetlands in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge from saltwater intrusion,” Wicke said.

South Carolina DHEC requested additional modeling to show how the changes would impact dissolved oxygen levels in the estuary, but the Maritime Commission did not agree to the additional modeling in time for the Corps to award the contract this fall.

The Corps has developed a powerful dissolved oxygen system to address those issues, and the requested changes had already been signed off on by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service, both the Georgia and South Carolina departments of Natural Resources as well as the Historic Preservation Offices in both states.

While the good news is that — if the issue can be resolved within a year — it isn’t likely to impact the overall completion of the deepening project, one has to wonder if the Savannah River Maritime Commission’s long history of throwing roadblocks in SHEP’s path isn’t the real mitigating factor here.

Help for Houston

Several weeks ago, I reported that GPA employees, ILA members and others in the maritime community were collecting supplies for those hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. The plan was to fill two containers and put them on a barge to the Port of Houston.

Instead, the group filled four containers to the brims, then determined it would be faster to truck the containers to Houston than to send them by barge.

Two trucking companies stepped up, offering their services free of charge.

TCW took the containers from Savannah to New Orleans, while Canal Cartage took the second leg from New Orleans to Houston — another example that Savannah’s maritime community is a true family, Morris said.

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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SHIP SCHEDULE

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 MEMPHIS Today

GCT PACON Today

GCT CAFER DEDE Today

GCT ALS CERES Today

GCT CHARLESTON EXPRESS Today

GCT SANTA BETTINA Today

GCT YM UNICORN Today

GCT MSC ASYA Today

GCT CHEM VENUS Saturday

GCT COSCO GLORY Saturday

GCT CMA CGM SWORDFISH Saturday

GCT NYK REMUS Saturday

GCT ZIM NEW YORK Saturday

GCT BREVIK BRIDGE Saturday

GCT EVER LEGACY Saturday

GCT ANNA MAERSK Saturday

GCT MAERSK KOTKA Saturday

GCT MAERSK WILMINGTON Saturday

GCT MARGARETE SCHULTE Saturday

GCT PRAGUE EXPRESS Saturday

OT STAR LIMA Saturday

OT GRANDE GUINEA Saturday

GCT CMA CGM LOIRE Sunday

GCT OOCL ASIA Sunday

GCT ARISTOMENIS Sunday

GCT EVER LEGION Sunday

GCT MSC MARINA Sunday

GCT ST LOUIS EXPRESS Sunday

GCT CSL SOPHIE Sunday

GCT CMA CGM INDUS Sunday

GCT GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE Sunday

GCT ASTRID SCHULTE Sunday

OT GIULIA I Sunday

OT BAHRI YANBU Sunday

GCT ZIM ONTARIO Monday

GCT MOL BENEFACTOR Monday

GCT MOL MAESTRO Monday

GCT YM UNISON Monday

GCT CMA CGM AMBER Monday

GCT ATB FREEPORT Monday

GCT YORKTOWN EXPRESS Monday

GCT NYK ROMULUS Monday

GCT MSC MAEVA Monday

GCT MAERSK KINLOSS Monday

GCT ALM ZURICH Monday

GCT MAERSK SHENZHEN Monday

GCT MAERSK STRALSUND Tuesday

GCT MAERSK SELETAR Tuesday

GCT ZIM TEXAS Tuesday

GCT CMA CGM MUSSET Wednesday

GCT MAERSK COLUMBUS Wednesday

GCT ZIM NINGBO Wednesday

GCT YM MODESTY Thursday

GCT ARIAN Thursday

GCT NYK DENEB Thursday

GCT MOL EMPIRE Thursday

GCT MAERSK KOWLOON Thursday

GCT BUDAPEST BRIDGE Thursday

GCT MSC KLEVEN Thursday

OT TAMESIS Thursday

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