Savannah Exports Up 21% in January, Total Cargo Dips Due to Import Decline

The Georgia Ports Authority achieved strong January growth in loaded exports to Europe and the Mediterranean. (GPA Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The Port of Savannah’s loaded container exports grew 21 percent in January. The nation’s busiest port for U.S. goods handled 110,305 twenty-foot equivalent container units of exports, an increase of 19,419 TEUs.

“We’re excited to support a strong month for American farms and factories at the Port of Savannah,” said Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority. “We achieved particularly robust growth last month in export trade lanes to Europe and the Mediterranean.”

Compared to pre-pandemic numbers, the Port of Savannah’s January trade of 421,714 TEUs in total cargo showed 11.7 percent improvement over January 2020, in which GPA handled 377,671 TEUs.

U.S. exports were a bright spot for GPA last month, in which total cargo dipped 55,000 TEUs or 11.5 percent compared to January 2022. The decrease was fueled in part by reduced orders in retail and manufacturing, resulting in import loads softening by 39,850 TEUs, or 16 percent. Similarly, the export of empty containers via Savannah declined 34,650 TEUs on reduced demand for Asian goods served by the empty boxes.

Weather also played a role, delaying six vessels slated to call Savannah in late January to the next month.

GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten said the Authority is using the current reduction in traffic to make significant progress on infrastructure projects that will be needed as demand returns. “Being prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they arise requires steady leadership and an eye toward long-term trends,” Wooten said. “Our board’s commitment to constant infrastructure improvement, even during down times, means our customers have a ready partner in growth when they need to expand their Georgia operations.”

Capital Projects

A project to allow Garden City Terminal Berth 1 to serve larger vessels is now 80 percent complete. The first four of eight massive cranes slated to work Berth 1 arrived Feb. 9. When Berth 1 improvements are finished in July, the port will be able to simultaneously serve four vessels capable of carrying 16,000+ TEUs, as well as three additional ships. The enhanced berth will add 1.5 million TEUs of annual berth capacity. The improvements will provide faster vessel service and better accommodate the big ships calling on Savannah.

Adjacent to the Port of Savannah’s main container terminal, the Garden City Terminal West project will deliver another 90 acres of new storage, supported by 15 electric rubber-tired gantry cranes. Now 20 percent complete, this project will add 1 million TEUs of annual capacity, coming online in phases in 2023 and 2024.

Along with a new cross-dock facility and renovations to Ocean Terminal, the projects will increase the Port of Savannah’s annual capacity from 6 million to 7.5 million TEUs in 2023, and to 9 million TEUs by 2025. Learn more about GPA’s growth plans here.

Port of Brunswick

At the Port of Brunswick, trade in autos and heavy machinery grew 9 percent in January, up 4,600 units to 57,127. For the fiscal year to date, Brunswick is up 16.7 percent to more than 411,000 Roll-on/Roll-off units.

To accommodate Ro/Ro cargo carried by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean, GPA improving Colonel’s Island Terminal. Construction has started on 350,000 square feet of near-dock warehousing that will serve auto processing, as well as three additional buildings and 85 acres of auto storage on the south side of the island. The expansion will grow annual capacity in Brunswick from 1.2 million to 1.4 million units of Ro/Ro cargo.

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