The Georgia Ports Authority has approved projects to increase annual capacity at the Port of Savannah beyond 6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of about 20 percent compare to its current capacity.

In 2020, the Port of Savannah handled 4.7 million TEUs of cargo, an increase of 1.8% compared to 2019, with 1,990 vessel calls.

The GPA on Monday approved capital improvement projects, dubbed the Peak Capacity project, which will establish 2,100 new grounded container slots and add 650,000 TEU of annual container yard capacity in two phases – the first of which is scheduled to open in September.

The capital improvement projects come amid an unprecedented cargo boom at the Port of Savannah sparked by a historic rebound from COVID-19 shut downs in the first half of 2020.

“Right now, we are moving container volumes that we did not expect to see for another four years,” said 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.”

February 2021 marked Savannah’s busiest February on record, with the port moving 390,804 TEUs of cargo, an increase of 7.2 percent compared to February 2020. Between September and February, GPA handled 2.64 million TEUs, an increase of nearly 375,000, or 16.5 percent, compared to 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 said.

“Georgia’s container trade has experienced unprecedented growth over the past six months,” said 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 addition to the Peak Capacity project, the board has also approved a Berth 1 renovation that will increase berth capacity by an estimated 1 million TEUs per year by June 2023. This will bring Savannah’s Garden City Terminal’s new total to 6 Million TEUs of annual berth capacity, according to the GPA.

In other projects aimed at increasing Savannah’s “big ship” capability, the GPA Board approved in November the purchase of eight new ship-to-shore cranes. The new machines will replace six older models, bringing Savannah’s STS fleet to 38. The eight taller cranes will arrive in 2023, allowing Garden City Terminal to serve more 15,000+ TEU vessels. Savannah’s harbor deepening, meanwhile, will reach substantial completion by the end of Calendar Year 2021.

On February 22, an expanded container operation also came online at Savannah’s Ocean Terminal, bringing annual capacity there to 250,000 TEUs.

“The new capacity at OT will ensure our shipping line customers see no service delays while GPA is straightening Berth 1 at Garden City Terminal,” McKnight added. “In light of unprecedented demand, we’re taking advantage of every opportunity to grow capacity at our deepwater terminals.”

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