While the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has five terminals, its container operation is handled in a single yard at the Garden City Terminal in Savannah Port, the largest container terminal in the Western Hemisphere. For the first time ever, that terminal is expected to surpass 4 million TEU this fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.
Garden City Terminal has 26 Ship-to-Shore (STS) cranes working nine vessel berths on 3,048 contiguous metres of berth space, and 146 rubber-tired gantry cranes spread throughout the 486 hecatres facility. The terminal’s 48 truck lanes ensure cargo fluidity.
These features were key to Savannah’s successful, congestion-free handling of sharp increases in volume due to West Coast labour issues in 2015. Presently, the logistics industry finds itself in an age when not only are ship sizes growing, the speed at which they are growing is accelerating. The first 10,000-TEU ships began calling at Garden City Terminal in July, 2016. Following this, 13,000 TEU ships and larger began calling in May, 2017, and finally a 14,000 TEU ship called in August, 2017.
Yet successive eclipsing of ship sizes wasn’t always so rapid. After the first 6,000 TEU vessel call on the US East Coast, the Regina Maersk, called in July, 1998, it took just over 12 years for the first 8,500 TEU vessel, the CMA CGM Figaro, to call the East Coast. It took another year and a half just to grow to 9,200 TEU and then three more years to reach 10,000 TEU on the East Coast.