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Savannah Port Expansion Continues with Arrival of Massive Container Cranes

Savannah container cranes
USCG enforced a temporary safety zone as four massive cranes arrived in the Port of Savannah (GPA)

Published Aug 25, 2023 8:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

The expansion of the container handling capacity at the Port of Savannah, Georgia continues with the arrival of the second batch of massive container cranes which are part of the Georgia Ports Authority’s $1.9 billion infrastructure improvement plan. The massive cranes arrived aboard a heavy lift ship after a three-month trip from Asia and were so large the U.S. Coast Guard enforced a temporary safety zone in the Savannah River on August 24.

Designed by Konecranes of Finland, the all-electric cranes arrived on the 519-foot vessel BigLift Barentsz. The Netherlands-flagged heavy load carrier is off-loading two cranes standing 306 feet tall with a reach 24 containers wide that will be installed at Berth 1 at the Garden City Terminal to complete the rehabilitation project for the large ship berth. The two new cranes are in addition to four of the largest ship-to-shore cranes in North America that arrived at the berth in February. The first batch of cranes and the expanded berth returned to operation in July adding 1.5 million TEU in annual berth capacity.

Two slightly smaller cranes, standing 295 feet in height that also arrived on the ship yesterday will be installed on the upriver end of the terminal at berth 9. They will have a reach 22 containers wide. These two cranes along with the other two that arrived yesterday will complete installation and assembly and are expected to be in service in December.

 

The first batch of cranes arrived in February and have already contributed to a 25 percent capacity increase (USCG)

 

The addition of the new cranes comes as Savannah continues to see increasing demand and growth in its volume. July while down from the record of a year ago, still saw a 17 percent month-over-month increase in the number of boxes moved. The GPA highlights that it has had a compound annual growth rate over the last four years of 3.7 percent.

The GPA ordered a total of eight new giant ship-to-shore cranes. They have already increased annual berth capacity by 25 percent and extended the port’s ability to serve vessels capable of carrying more than 16,000 TEU. The port has also agreed to spend $170 million on 55 hybrid-engine rubber-tired gantry cranes as it continues the expansion and modernization of the port. Those cranes will also contribute to reducing emissions from the port operations. 

At the end of 2022, GPA announced a two-phase project to expand Savannah’s container capacity. It includes relocating breakbulk cargo operations to Brunswick, Georgia along with the ro-ro vehicle operations.  When completed in 2026, the plan calls for an additional 3 million TEU capacity at the Port of Savannah.