The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is putting on a push to complete some long-term infrastructure improvements, announcing Sunday that it has set a new precedent by using four dredges simultaneously on its Savannah harbor deepening project.
The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) includes two dredges keeping the channel at its current authorized depth of 42 feet, followed by two dredges taking the channel to its new depth of 47 feet, according to a release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The dredges work without disrupting the flow of commercial traffic to or from the Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal and other facilities along the river, thanks to tight coordination between the Army, the GPA, dredging contractors, harbor pilots, and the U.S. Coast Guard, authorities said.
Operators run the dredges 24 hours a day, moving aside whenever commercial vessels enter their area. That is achieved by orchestrating the movements of each dredge and its associated support vessels, the Army said. First, the two smaller maintenance dredges remove built up shoaling and sediment, then move on, followed by the larger deepening dredges. In addition, workers must move pipelines leading from the dredges to the dredge material disposal areas. Finally, everything returns to continue the routine after commercial traffic passes.
Although the port expects its container handling volumes to dip due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a GPA spokesman said the acceleration of dredging work is not related to slowing container demand. The Army is simply working hard to get the project over the finish line, and has continued that effort throughout the crisis, the GPA said.
The entire deepening project is now about 62% complete. The outer harbor, a roughly 20-mile channel extending into the Atlantic Ocean, has already been deepened to 49 feet at low tide. The inner harbor constitutes the final portion.
When completed, the project will allow today's larger container vessels to enter and leave the harbor during a longer tide window and with more cargo aboard. "With the challenges our economy is facing, the savings a deeper harbor will mean for our customers can't come soon enough," GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a release. "We're excited to see so much work getting done as the Corps of Engineers coordinates these efforts.”
Editor's note: This article was revised on June 3 to include information from the GPA.
#Savannah harbor deepening sets precedent; four dredges working simultaneously. Read more: https://t.co/sqko3MV1DF. @SavannahCorps #GeorgiaPorts #gaports #shipping #cargo #SavannahRiver #logistics #supplychain pic.twitter.com/zDrRgjHatb— Georgia Ports (@GaPorts) June 1, 2020