Baltimore Shutdown Drives More Ro/Ro Traffic to Port of Brunswick

Courtesy GPA

Published Apr 17, 2024 11:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

The shutdown of Baltimore's inner harbor has been a disaster for local shipping interests, and has disrupted the logistics networks of countless shippers. But it has also provided a boost in traffic for other East Coast ports, like Brunswick, Georgia, Baltimore's nearest competitor by volume in the American ro/ro market. 

Brunswick was already quite busy: over the last nine months, volume was up by 16 percent. In March, Brunswick set a new record by handling 52 vessels and 77,000 units of cars, trucks and equipment. This month, the number could hit 87,000, the port told the New York Times.

“March was the busiest month ever for Ro/Ro cargo in Brunswick, with organic growth and new customers driving increases in both autos and high and heavy equipment,” said Georgia Ports Authority President and CEO Griff Lynch. “Import and export trade has increased as auto makers expanded production and Colonel’s Island processors have captured additional market share in the South Atlantic region.”

Brunswick is handling some of the farm machinery export cargoes that would normally pass through Baltimore - including a large volume of John Deere tractors for customers in Asia. “If we didn’t have Brunswick, I think the supply chain would be in a bad way on the auto side,” Lynch told the Times. 

Brunswick's capacity is finite in the immediate term, but it is growing rapidly to accommodate its expanding car business. The GPA is in the middle of adding another 120 acres of parking space and 640,000 square feet of car processing space, and both will be ready by late summer, the port says. After that, the focus will turn to adding a fourth berth, which will speed up vessel handling.