Georgia Ports Authority records 7.7% boost in February box volumes
The Georgia Ports Authority handled 330,539 TEUs in February, with total cargo tonnage reaching 2.94 million tons, year-over-year increases of 7.7 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) said its terminals handled 330,539 TEUs in February, 7.7 percent more than in February 2016, but measured by weight, throughput surged 14.4 percent year-over-year to over 2.5 million tons.
The port explained that loaded export container volumes rose 12.62 percent year-over-year in February, while export empty containers ticked up 4.42 percent.
Export containers frequently are filled with heavy cargo. In its fiscal year that ended last June, for example, the leading containerized commodities moving over Savannah's docks were food (including poultry, pet and animal feeds, and edible nuts); wood pulp; paper and paperboard, including waste paper and clay; and retail consumer goods.
In total, the GPA handled 2.94 million tons of cargo across all of its docks last month - a 10 percent increase from February 2016, and second only to January's 3.01 million tons.
GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said, “With the coming realignment of the shipping alliances in April, Savannah will offer more container services than any other East Coast or Gulf port, at 35 weekly vessel calls."
Lynch said Savannah's Ocean Terminal, which handles breakbulk cargo such as linerboard, autos, iron and steel, handled 9.2 percent more cargo in February compared to a year prior. Iron and steel volumes surged 38 percent, which Lynch said was “a good leading indicator of future growth in construction, as well as automobile and other manufacturing."
This week, the GPA's main container facility, the Garden City Terminal in Savannah, will commission a new neo-Panamax ship-to-shore container crane, with three more set to come online by mid-April. A separate, $45.3 million order will bring four more cranes to the terminal in 2018, for a total of 30.
The port authority said the larger cranes are necessary to serve the larger vessels calling Savannah. In the six months prior to the late June 2016 opening of the expanded Panama Canal, the Garden City Terminal was not called by any vessels with a capacity of 10,000 or more TEUs. From July through December 2016, the Port of Savannah received 31 calls from ships with over 10,000 TEUs of capacity.
On Monday, the GPA's board approved a power grid upgrade to provide greater resiliency and capacity for electric-powered equipment at the Garden City Terminal. GPA Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy said the Port of Savannah's continuing shift away from diesel has saved the authority millions of dollars each year in energy costs and helps avoid tons of diesel emissions.
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