On December 5, 2022, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) announced their plan to build two post-Panamax berths at Ocean Terminal in Savannah, GA. Consequently, the US$350 million project will transition what had traditionally been a dual breakbulk/container terminal into a modern, container-only facility. “For nearly 40 years, Ocean Terminal has been handling a mix of container ships and breakbulk vessels. The realignment is part of a broader effort to transform the terminal into an all-container operation, shifting most breakbulk cargo to the Port of Brunswick,” said Griff Lynch, GPA executive director. “Completion of this project will improve our flexibility and allow Georgia Ports to optimize cargo movement, supporting our customers in delivering goods to market efficiently.”
The Container project will break ground at the GPA facility in 2023 and will be modified in two phases. The projected 2,800 linear feet of berth space and eight new ship-to-shore cranes will allow the GPA terminal to handle two container ships simultaneously by 2026. Henceforth, the heavy machinery and breakbulk freight that Ocean Terminal used to handle will transfer to the Port of Brunswick. Furthermore, the GPA plans to shift the cargo carried by roll-on/roll-off carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen to the 1,700-acre terminal on Colonel’s Island.
GPA Growth Leads to Container-Only Operations
The Container-only Ocean Terminal expansion project is part of a larger strategy by the GPA. Post-COVID, the port has subsequently seen a massive influx of cargo and vessel-backlogs. Laden imports at the port grew 29.3 percent between January and October 2022 compared with the same period in 2019. October 2022 was GPA’s second busiest month on record. August of this year, when the Port of Savannah handled 575,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), was the busiest. The GPA has topped half a million TEUs in three of the first four months of Fiscal Year 2023. This adds up to a total volume of 2.1 million TEUs for the year.
“While we are beginning to see an anticipated market correction, it is important that GPA move forward with projects like the Ocean Terminal enhancements to accommodate business growth,” said GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten about the project. “Through continued infrastructure improvement, we will ensure the free flow of commerce, and our ability to meet expanding customer demand.”