The Georgia Ports Authority recently welcomed the arrival of four massive ship-to-shore cranes that are a visible reminder of the expanded Savannah port – and its regional economic impact.
The ports in Savannah and Brunswick, which operate as a single unit, have major economic impact from both imports and exports for businesses in Coweta County. Four additional Neo-Panamax cranes sailed into the Savannah port, with a 50- by 100-foot American flag across the side.
"To see these massive new cranes arrive flying the stars and stripes makes us proud to be part of an operation that provides jobs and opportunity for so many," said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.
Once commissioned, the new cranes will bring Savannah's fleet to 30. Six additional cranes will arrive in 2020. When all are commissioned, the upgrade will allow the nation's largest single container facility to move nearly 1,300 containers per hour.
"We look forward to the new era of prosperity these cranes will help usher in," said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. "Our considerable investments today ensure Georgia's ports reputation for excellence."
Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy said the advantage of these new cranes will be multiplied by several other ongoing infrastructure improvements, including the Mason Mega Rail Terminal. That project will double the Port of Savannah's annual rail lift capacity to 1 million container lifts, and expand the port's reach into the Midwest.
"These new cranes will prepare us for the next wave of growth for Georgia and the nation," McCarthy said. "Today's 15 percent increase in our crane fleet will help GPA stay ahead of the growth curve. Nearly two-thirds of the ships serving the Port of Savannah are Neo-Panamax vessels, and we expect the shipping lines to continue their shift toward larger vessels."
The Neo-Panamax cranes are tall enough to lift containers 152 feet above the dock. The booms reach out 192 feet from the dock face. Lift capacity for each crane is 72 tons. With the booms up, the cranes are 412 feet tall. The crane fleet operates over nearly 10,000 contiguous feet of dock and nine berth spaces.
Work is underway to complete electrical attachments, mechanical alignments and testing before the cranes, which arrived Nov. 22, are put into use. The first of the new cranes will go into service in February. Two more will be commissioned in March, with the final crane going into service in April.
The expansion of Savannah’s harbor was required to accommodate larger ships that can come through the expanded Panama Canal.
In 2015, Candace Boothby, president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, and then U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland both commented on the impact of the ports on Coweta’s economy.
Because of the expansion of the port, “our local and state economy will benefit tremendously,” Westmoreland said.
The expansion “to accommodate larger ocean-going vessels … will positively affect Coweta County’s international business,” Boothby said. “This will definitely improve our Coweta-based industries’ ability to compete with other eastern seaboard ports.”
Lynch commented on the impact of the new cranes themselves to the regional economy. “This investment, totaling $47 million, will help bring in more business and support more jobs, not only for Georgia but for the entire southeast United States," Lynch said.