Georgia Ports Authority Savannah Port
The Georgia Ports Authority has approved capital improvement projects that will expand shipping container capacity at the Port of Savannah.
Georgia Ports Authority / Jeremy Polston

Port of Savannah works to expand shipping container capacity

The Georgia-based port has approved several projects that will add more container units this year.

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The Georgia Ports Authority board (GPA) has approved capital improvement projects that will increase the Port of Savannah’s container capacity by 20 percent.

“Right now, we are moving container volumes that we did not expect to see for another four years,” says GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Our employees are working very hard to ensure we continue to provide our customers with world-class service. Additionally, we are expediting capacity projects that will increase the speed and fluidity of cargo handling at the Port of Savannah.”

According to a news release from GPA, the board approved a terminal enhancement dubbed the Peak Capacity project, which will establish 2,100 new grounded container slots. The project will add 650,000 20-foot equivalent (TEU) container units of actual container yard capacity in two phases, with the first opening in September.

“Georgia’s container trade has experienced unprecedented growth over the past six months,” says GPA board Chairman Will McKnight. “This addition is among several that will address the needs of port users experiencing a sharp increase in demand, while also preparing Savannah to take on additional business over the long term.”

In February, GPA reported that the Port of Savannah moved 390,804 TEUs of cargo, an increase of 7.2 percent, or 26,400 TEUs compared with February 2020. Between September and February, GPA handled 2.64 million TEUs, an increase of nearly 375,000, or 16.5 percent, compared with the same six-month period a year ago.

“In terms of cargo volumes, we’ve added the equivalent of an extra month of trade since September,” Lynch says.

Higher volumes moving through the Port of Savannah have contributed to an industrial market growth rate that was highest in the nation for 2020 in terms of net absorption as a percent of total inventory.

In other projects aimed at increasing Savannah’s big ship capability, the GPA board approved the purchase of eight new ship-to-shore cranes in November 2020. The machines will replace six older models, bringing Savannah’s fleet to 38. GPA says the taller cranes will arrive in 2023, allowing Garden City Terminal to serve 15,000 more TEU vessels.

GPA board also approved the purchase of 20 new rubber-tired gantry cranes, which will be tall enough to stand over six containers. GPA says this will allow for additional capacity in the same terminal footprint.