Georgia port officials believe a new joint venture to consolidate stevedoring, terminal, and gate operations will quicken the pace of loading and unloading vessels.
Photo credit:  Stephen Morton/Georgia Ports Authority.

The Journal of Commerce Online


The number of vessels anchored at the Port of Savannah has fallen to less than five to begin the new year, and port officials believe a new stevedoring and terminal joint venture will further improve the discharging of vessels and raise overall productivity.

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) credits better coordination with shippers and trucking companies after signaling the alarm bell in September when the terminal was congested with containers and 30 vessels were anchored outside the harbor.

GPA said if shippers can continue to quickly remove their containers, it could take care of all the anchored vessels within a couple weeks thanks to four pop-up storage sites across Georgia and new capacity in the Garden City Terminal, which is now capable of holding up to 570,000 TEU per year.

The success in whittling down the vessel backlog is evident in data from the port authority, with import dwell times down 50 percent from September when the average was 12 days. The number of containers on the terminal is down from 85,000 in September to 70,000 today. Fewer containers are sitting weeks at a time uncollected.

“What that means is we can go at vessels with everything we have, and we have more resources than most,” GPA CEO Griff Lynch told Monday. “We can put all the gangs [labor] out there. And we can use all our cranes.”

Lynch said when there were 25 to 30 anchored vessels, the GPA would deliberately use only three cranes to discharge a vessel rather than five or six because the terminal was too jammed with containers. While it would take longer to unload a vessel and cause more vessels to anchor, it prevented containers from overwhelming the terminal…continue reading.