The Georgia Ports Authority reports that a strong economy, larger vessels and additional container services led to an all-time record month for container volume last month. The GPA handled 350,000 TEU for the month, an increase of about 12 percent compared to the same period last year. The authority handled 330,000 TEU in April, reflecting a year-over-year increase of the same percentage.
“It’s evident shipping lines are deploying larger vessels and cargo exchanges through the Panama Canal to Georgia's ports," said GPA executive director Griff Lynch. "This is a strong indicator that an important market share shift to Georgia is possible through recently restructured shipping services."
Lynch said the recent calls of two 13,000 TEU vessels — the COSCO Development and OOCL France — demonstrate how efficiently larger ships are served by the GPA. He noted the vessels play to the strengths of Garden City's single terminal operation, which include an unmatched 1,200-acre complex, 26 ship-to-shore cranes, nine container berths and on-terminal service by two Class I rail providers. These advantages allowed longshoremen to move more than 19,000 TEUs from these two vessels alone. About half came from the COSCO Development: during the 30 hours the vessel was in dock, six cranes moved more than 9,700 TEU on and off the vessel, with a net berth productivity of 220 boxes per hour.
“Our goal at Georgia’s ports has been to stay one step ahead of demand in the marketplace,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “As a result of this approach, we can accommodate more and more vessels like the COSCO Development without delays.”
And more of these vessels will be arriving soon. On April 1, shipping lines realigned to form massive new alliances. These new rotations mean that more 13,000-plus TEU vessels are heading for Georgia's ports. Since this realignment, 35 weekly container services call at Garden City Terminal, more than any other port on the U.S. East Coast.
"Our record-breaking performance in May with no congestion or operational issues gave our customers increased confidence in Georgia's ports," Lynch said. "This proves the GPA can simultaneously serve larger vessels and greater volumes while providing the excellent logistic solutions our customers have come to expect."