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Port of Savannah business declines for a change
port
In this file photo, the container ship CMA CGM Marco Polo sails up river past the historic River Street in Savannah, Ga., to the Port of Savannah, Wednesday, May, 26, 2021. The Georgia Ports Authority saw a rare decline in activity last month. - photo by Associated Press

ATLANTA – The Georgia Ports Authority saw a rare decline in activity last month.

The Port of Savannah handled 464,883 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized cargo in November, down 6.2% compared to the same month last year.

However, Savannah’s numbers show an increase of 28% when measured over three years. That rate of growth is well above the authority’s pre-pandemic expansion, which averaged 4% to 5%annually.

“Container trade at U.S. ports is returning to a more sustainable growth pattern, which is a positive development for the logistics industry,” said Griff Lynch, the authority’s executive director.

“Along with the addition of more than 1 million TEUs of annual capacity, a slight reduction in demand will mean faster vessel service as we work to bring a new big ship berth online at Garden City Terminal in July.”

The impact of inflation and a shift in consumer spending patterns are partially responsible for a reduction in manufacturing and subsequent container demand. Weather also played a role in the November decline.

The Savannah River channel was closed to the largest vessels for more than three days last month because of adverse weather conditions, including Tropical Storm Nicole.

“While we are planning for a moderation in the container trade, we expect volumes to remain strong, though shy of the historic highs of the past year,” said authority board Chairman Joel Wooten said. “Announcements from automakers and other manufacturers coming to Georgia, as well as an array of their suppliers, will mean healthy increases in trade over the long term.”

Lynch said the current lull has allowed the Port of Savannah to reduce the number of container ships waiting in the harbor to 17, down 43% since the beginning of November, when there were 30 vessels at anchor. The authority expects to clear the backlog by early next month.

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