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Georgia Expands Port Capacity, Here’s What to Know

Geoff Whiting

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The Georgia Ports Authority held its 2022 State of the Port event to highlight many changes, improvements, and planned expansions for regional ports, including an overall increase in container capacity by 60%. That would bring the Port of Savannah from 6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units to 9.5 million TEUs in the next three years. 

Red Stag Director of Logistics Lorrie Watts attended the event to look for relevant information and opportunities for both Red Stag and our partners. Here are her thoughts about the announcements and why we’re excited to see Georgia’s growth. 

Growth in Savannah 

The event provided some light at the end of the tunnel for the supply chain and logistics communities. Not only has the Port of Savannah experienced 18 consecutive months of growth, but there are also no vessels waiting at the Georgia Port. Savannah addressed the bottleneck and will likely be a model for some innovative work at other ports along the seaboard. 

Savannah lists its vessels at anchor at 0 in February 2022, compared to other ports with 11 to 34

A few interesting stats from the State of the Port presentation include: 

  • The Port has added 1,200 new drivers since November 
  • 370 new trucking companies have opened since November in the Savannah area 
  • Recent crane installations are designed to work with new 16,000 TEU+ vessels 
  • 6 pop-up container yards have added more than 500,000 TEU of container space 

Regional improvements such as the railhead in Atlanta support going in and getting a container out in around 15 minutes. The state has done a significant amount of work to keep containers moving and get them closer to customers instead of having them sit in the Savannah, Georgia Port where the demurrage charges can build up quickly. 

Savannah Harbor expansion project 

“One thing that’s about to be complete that would be important for our partners to know is the Savannah Harbor expansion project,” said Watts. “It was deepened so they can start bringing in the bigger vessels by the end of March. The Savannah, Georgia Port says it’ll be able to get four of the 16,000 TEU vessels in at one time and then three other container ships as well.” 

According to the Georgia Port, the expansion will play a pivotal role in adding 1.7 million TEUs of annual capacity in the next four months. The harbor expansion has been in the works for more than 20 years and will open many new options for our partners who import through the East Coast. 

Savannah Georgia Port with large container ship

Speedway in the Georgia port 

“The thing that stuck out to me the most on the tour was that there were no lines,” said Watts. “On the news, you’ll often see these long lines with truck drivers backed up, struggling to get in and move. But this was a very smooth situation — a truck driver can go in, get a container, and be back out of the Savannah port in 53 minutes. That’s what they’re averaging right now. 

“And the reason that’s a good thing is that when drivers must wait over an hour or two you start accumulating driver detention costs. Not only will the charges add up, but it leads to upset drivers. This place was great. It was like a freeway in the middle of a container yard.” 

Expanded access to the ARP 

The event also discussed improvements and options to leverage the Appalachian Regional Port (ARP). It’s an inland rail terminal with an annual capacity of 50,000 containers now but plans to double that within the decade. The use of the ARP is vital to our partners because of potential speed improvements and cost savings. 

“We’re looking at ways to use the ARP because then shipments don’t have to go out of the Savannah terminal — they’re loaded directly onto the rail that’s there, and it’s good to go to the ARP,” said Watts. “So, there’s no drayage at Savannah, and the ARP is about 85 miles away from our Sweetwater location. That provides a lot more options for inbound on the East Coast — a chance to improve the efficiency of those moves into us. And it may make it easier to turn that container and get it back to Savannah faster, cutting back the amount of detention that our partners have to pay.” 

Red Stag is researching these options to see where it can best support our partners. Adding cost savings or reducing time isn’t guaranteed for every container, but we want to help you identify when it’s possible. Your account representatives at Red Stag are happy to speak with you about this or help you understand the ARP move so that you can discuss it with your freight forwarders. 

Savannah Georgia Port with new cranes and high-stacked containers

Keeping our eyes open for you 

Red Stag Fulfillment is expanding our attendance at events like the State of the Port and deepening regional relationships to look for better opportunities for our partners. We want to do the hard work of identifying choices and helping your business find what works best and where you might save. As we do, we’ll share what we learn with you directly and through posts like this one. 

If you have questions, logistics suggestions, or need support on specific moves, reach out to your account team. Our experts and leaders like Lorrie are excited to share the information and insights we uncover. 

Read more from Lorrie here: 

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