A five-year expansion plan at the Port of Savannah aims to help the port stay ahead of growing demand for service in the region, port officials said today.
Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) officials announced the Big Berth/Big Ship program, in which the Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal will be upgraded to handle six 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) vessels simultaneously by 2024. The terminal can handle two such vessels now and will be able to handle three by April of this year, port officials said.
"A strong global economy coupled with a growing awareness of Savannah's logistical advantages are driving sustained growth at our deepwater container terminal," GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood said during the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference, held February 3-5, Sea Island, Ga. "GPA's Big Berth/Big Ship program will ensure Georgia stays ahead of demand and ahead of the competition."
Over the next five years, the GPA said it plans to add 21 Neo-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes, replacing 14 of its older models, to bring the total fleet to 37. Dock upgrades are already under way to support the new, larger machines, officials said.
In addition to the ship-to-shore cranes, the GPA said it will add a dozen new rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, giving the Garden City Terminal 158 container-handling cranes. Ten RTGs will be commissioned in July, with another two commissioned in September, port officials said.
Other upgrades include the Mason Mega Rail project, which will double the Port of Savannah's rail lift capacity to 1 million containers per year by late 2020, and the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project—slated for completion in late 2021—which will "deliver the deeper water necessary to better accommodate the larger vessels now calling on the U.S. East Coast," port officials also said.
GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch emphasized the region's growth, noting that the Port of Savannah saw its busiest month ever in January, moving 433,975 TEUs, a 28 percent increase compared with January 2017.