The Port of Savannah this year became the second biggest container export port in the U.S. on a tonnage basis, but the port needs to deepen its harbor to keep growing, said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz.
During fiscal year 2011, ended July 1, Savannah handled 6.84 million tons of containerized export cargo, second only to the Port of Los Angeles and ahead of Long Beach, according Department of Commerce data on which the GPA based its claim.
To continue to grow, the port needs to deepen its harbor to allow larger ships able to pass through the expanded Panama Canal in late 2014, Foltz said at his annual State of the Port Address Thursday.
“The work to deepen the Savannah Harbor up to 48 feet at mean low water is precisely the type of effort that will bring comprehensive economic recovery to the United States,” he said.
Savannah handled 8.7 percent of U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports during the fiscal year 2011, Foltz said
“The demand for export commodities translates into economic growth for Georgia and the Southeast,” said Foltz. “Overall, export throughput comprised 53 percent of GPA’s total containerized cargo and grew by 12 percent.”
During the month of July, Savannah’s container throughput was relatively flat year-over-year, increasing by a slim .005 percent from July of last year to 252,590 TEUs. July’s volume was up 2.9 percent sequentially from June.
Although the port didn’t make as much headway in dredging its harbor as it hoped during fiscal 2011, the authority completed a roadway providing direct access across the 1,200-acre terminal from the north end to the south. The road separates traffic between the container yards and supports functions located behind the yards.
The authority also took delivery of 20 new rubber-tired gantry cranes, which enable the port to condense the placement of containers and limit its terminal footprint. The new RTGs use less terminal space and have variable-speed engines that cut diesel consumption and emissions.