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Georgia ports report record-setting fiscal year

Griff Lynch

Posted on August 1, 2022

The Georgia Ports Authority handled a record 5.76 million twenty-foot equivalent container units during the last fiscal year, up 8% over fiscal 2021, the agency reported Tuesday, July 26.

Several external developments are playing a role in the increased activity at the Port of Savannah, including labor-management disputes at West Coast ports and the diversion of cargo ships to Savannah from an overcrowded Port of Charleston.

A series of capacity increases at the Port of Savannah is allowing the Garden City terminal to accommodate the higher-than-normal vessels waiting at anchor, said Griff Lynch, the ports authority’s executive director.

“Despite the record volumes, the Port of Savannah remains fluid,” Lynch said. “Several factors have contributed to our growing container capacity, including expedited infrastructure projects, our inland pop-up yards, and an influx of truck drivers moving to the Southeast.”

To keep up with the growth in traffic, the authority added 166 workers during the last fiscal year, bringing the agency’s payroll to 1,647.

The authority’s board approved the purchase of a dozen new rubber-tired gantry cranes and other container handling equipment in July. The Port of Savannah already boasts 198 cranes, with an additional 24 on order.

“Growing our workforce and infrastructure is part of the board’s continuing commitment to keep our deep-water terminals ready to take on new trade,” authority board Chairman Joel Wooten said.

Besides the growth in container trade, breakbulk tonnage was up 15.7% during the last fiscal year. Breakbulk cargo includes such items as automobiles, furniture, machinery, and forest products.

Mayor’s Point Terminal at the Port of Brunswick had an especially strong fiscal 2022, with forest products leaping from 52,244 tons during the previous fiscal year to 252,000 tons in the fiscal end that ended June 30.

Lynch said the main reason behind the rapid growth in breakbulk cargo was its relatively low cost compared to rates for containerized cargo.


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