The Port of Savannah has been breaking records as it continues to grow its trade and revenue numbers. A $2.5 billion expansion is ongoing as well.
The growth is largely driven by increased shipping traffic, resulting in an estimated $84 billion in economic activity annually, according to the Georgia Ports Authority. That represents a more than 30 percent increase in recent years.
A large portion of the current port expansion is largely unseen. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is deepening the Savannah Harbor by 5 feet, to a depth of 47 feet. This is an important step in the process because port managers say that every foot that is “added” opens port capacity for 200 more containers per ship.
This change will triple the allowable size of ships in the harbor. The “old” harbor could hold 4,800 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) ships. The new harbor will enable the entry of 14,000 TEU ships.
Larger ships will need larger cranes to handle the increased cargo and the port is in the process of obtaining six new ones from China. The initial cost of the cranes is $70 million, but the cost could go up as the cranes are caught up in Washington’s ongoing tariff battle with China. The Trump Administration has threatened a 25 percent tariff on ship-to-shore cranes made in China. Georgia elected officials have been lobbying the White House to drop that threat.
The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is not limited to what happens on, under, or above the water, either. Roads are being widened and a rail hub is being configured to handle the ever increasing number of cargo, according to the port authority.