The board of Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has approved a plan to renovate and realign the docks at the Port of Savannah's ocean terminal to better accommodate its expanding container operation.

GPA plans to shift breakbulk cargo carried by Wallenius Wilhelmsen ocean to Colonel's Island Terminal in Brunswick, says an official release. Construction has started on 360,000 square feet of dockside warehousing that will serve auto processing as well as three additional buildings and 85 acres of auto storage space on the south side of the island.

"For nearly 40 years, ocean terminal has been handling a mix of container ships and breakbulk vessels," says Griff Lynch, executive director, GPA. "The realignment is part of a broader effort to transform the terminal into an all-container operation, shifting most breakbulk cargo to the Port of Brunswick. Completion of this project will improve our flexibility and allow Georgia Ports to optimise cargo movement, supporting our customers in delivering goods to market efficiently."

The 200-acre ocean terminal facility will be modified in two phases, the release said.

"Work will begin with rebuilding the docks to provide 2,800 linear feet of berth space, capable of serving two big ships simultaneously. The docks will be served by new ship-to-shore cranes. The GPA board expanded its crane purchase by one for a total of eight cranes slated for ocean terminal."

Ed McCarthy, chief operating officer, Georgia Ports adds: "As the dock construction progresses, GPA will continue to operate container ships at the ocean terminal. The work – which is funded by GPA's Series 2022 Revenue Bonds – will be conducted alongside container and break bulk operations."

The project will expand gate facilities to allow for 1.5 million TEUs of annual capacity with completion of the entire terminal redevelopment expected in 2026, the release added.

The Port of Savannah handled nearly 553,000 TEUs in October, its busiest ever, but port officials expect container volumes to decline towards the end of the year.

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