In July, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch reported a record Fiscal 2017 to his board – 3.8 million containers and $373 million in revenues for the period ending June 30.
After receiving congratulations all around, he could rest for all of five minutes before board Chairman Jimmy Allgood threw down the gauntlet.
“This has been a great year,” Allgood said. “Now, as we turn our attention to 2018, we have an opportunity to reach some really phenomenal milestones – we are looking at the potential of 4 million (TEU containers) as well as $400 million in annual revenue.”
Lynch never flinched – he just delivered, reporting last week that the Port of Savannah moved more than 1 million TEUs across Garden City Terminal in the first quarter of FY2018, which ended Sept. 30.
Allgood was not surprised, nor did he think his directive had much to do with the first-quarter gains.
“My comments were more tongue-in-cheek than anything,” Allgood said this week. “I had no doubt Griff and his staff were already shooting for that. Forward thinking, planning and follow-through are hallmarks of this organization’s success.”
Lynch pointed to a myriad of reasons for the ports’ continued success, most of them the result of innovation that has brought about a sea change – pun intended — in what was once a sleepy Southern harbor.
“Sustained organic growth coupled with increased market share are driving these volume increases,” Lynch said. “We’ve also achieved major gains through the addition of Neo-Panamax vessels to the fleet serving Garden City Terminal.”
Not only is Garden City Terminal the fastest growing major port in the Western Hemisphere, as of the end of June, it’s the third fastest-growing container terminal in the world behind only the ports of Ningbo and Guangzhou in China.
Part of that is due to geography. Garden City Terminal’s nine-berth, 1,200-acre footprint has nearly two miles of contiguous dock, offering greater flexibility in working multiple ships while eliminating the need for those ships to move between smaller terminals .
But it’s not just geography. The management of this unique resource with such infrastructure improvements as the continuous addition of massive ship-to-shore cranes, the expansion of truck gates and the creation of inland rail terminals has a allowed the port to move more containers faster without sacrificing efficiency.
It has not gone unnoticed. Today, Garden City Terminal hosts 36 weekly vessel calls, more than any other container terminal on the East Coast.
During his annual State of the Port address earlier this month, Lynch outlined an infrastructure improvement plan to accommodate strong growth, expand existing markets and develop new ones.“Savannah’s unique capabilities as the largest single terminal in North America, with 26 ship-to-shore cranes, on-terminal rail and immediate interstate access has allowed the port to handle significant growth,” Allgood said, adding that he doesn’t expect that to slow down anytime soon.
In fact, just one of those projects — the addition of 10 more massive cranes by 2020 — will give the port the ability to move an unprecedented 1,300 containers per hour on and off vessels.
“Smart investments that will double our rail lift capacity at Garden City, build inland terminals around the state, and put 36 cranes on one dock – coupled with the deepening of the harbor – will position Savannah to take on a new era of business expansion,” Allgood said.