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The Georgia Ports Authority in 2022 handled 5.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units — more containers than ever before and a 5% increase over 2021. 

“It was a challenging year, but collaborative effort across Georgia’s supply chain ensured cargo movement remained fluid,” Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a news release.

Those challenges included widespread port backups as imports overwhelmed the supply chain. In January 2022, about 150 container ships were stuck off North American ports waiting to berth. The Port of Savannah had almost 50 ships waiting at midyear, and there were still close to 30 in late November. As of Jan. 6 this year, there were eight vessels waiting to unload in Georgia. 

Those vessels did help the Port of Savannah achieve four of its top five months for container volume in 2022, with volumes peaking in August with an all-time high of 575,500 TEUs, the GPA said. 

Joel Wooten, chairman of the GPA board, said projects are underway to enable the port to handle even more ships and their containers.

“We’re excited about the possibilities ahead, with major infrastructure projects delivering greater capacity and efficiency for our customers,” Wooten said in the release. “At Georgia Ports, we’re bringing to market faster vessel service, quicker turn times for trucks and more room to grow business.”

The Port of Savannah is set to increase annual capacity from 6 million to 7.5 million TEUs in 2023 and to 9 million by 2025. The GPA said that will be achieved through the renovation of Berth 1 at Garden City Terminal to handle vessels with a capacity to carry 16,000 TEUs, the 90-acre Garden City Terminal West expansion and the transition of Ocean Terminal to an all-container facility.

In addition to record container cargo in 2022, GPA achieved a 16% increase in breakbulk tonnage to nearly 3.3 million tons, an improvement of 443,000 tons year over year. In roll-on/roll-off cargo, Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick handled 651,101 units of autos and heavy machinery. Ocean Terminal in Savannah moved an additional 19,630 ro/ro units, for a total of 670,731, an increase of 0.4%.

Total tonnage crossing all GPA docks reached 42.4 million tons last year, an increase of about 2% or nearly 760,000 tons.

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