Intermodal Roundup: Port of Savannah, Port of Los Angeles Hit Record Highs

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
The Port of Savannah handled more than 519,000 TEUs in May.

The Port of Savannah handled more than 519,000 TEUs in May.

The Georgia Ports Authority’s (GPA) Port of Savannah moved an all-time high 519,390 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in May, breaking the previous record of 504,350 set in October 2021. GPA’s May volumes grew by 8.5%, or 40,770 TEUs, compared to the same month last year. Meanwhile, the Port of Los Angeles processed 967,000 TEUs in May, the third best overall month in its 115-year history, ranked only behind May 2021 and October 2020. So far this year, the Port of Los Angeles has processed more than 4.5 million TEUs, equal to last year’s record-setting pace.

GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch noted Garden City Terminal is handling more business during the current influx of trade than during the previous spike, last fall. The additional trade is driven in part by vessels diverting to Savannah from other East and West Coast ports.

“Strong consumer demand continues to drive higher volumes at the Port of Savannah,” Lynch said. “The infrastructure improvements and pop-up yards approved by the GPA Board have enabled our operations to maintain the flow of cargo across our terminal, despite unprecedented container volumes passing through the port.”

As of April, GPA has added 900,000 TEUs of annual capacity to Garden City Terminal. Another 300,000 are expected to come online in July for a new total of more than seven million TEUs of container handling space.

Additionally, Phase I of GPA’s Garden City Terminal West expansion has added a 25-acre container yard adjacent to Georgia Highway 21, a principal truck route approaching the main terminal. Phase II will add up to one million TEUs of annual capacity, which will begin coming online in 2023.

“By increasing container space at Garden City Terminal, GPA is accommodating the expansion in global commerce that supports job growth in Georgia,” said GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten. “Industries from logistics to auto manufacturing, and agriculture to retail depend on Georgia’s ports for reliable supply chain solutions.”

The Port of Savannah completed 327,400 truck gate moves in May, counting loaded import and export containers, as well as the movement of empty chassis. Thanks to the flexibility of motor carriers taking advantage of night gate hours, Garden City Terminal facilitated more than 15,000 truck moves between the hours of 7 and 11 p.m. last month, up from just over 10,000 in April. Another 48,000 containers (approximately 88,000 TEUs) moved by rail in May.

In addition to the container trade, GPA achieved a 28% increase in breakbulk cargo for the month. Breakbulk commodities including iron and steel, rubber and forest products reached 320,722 tons in May, up 70,780 tons.

May 2022 loaded imports at the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere, reached 499,960 TEUs compared to the previous year, a decrease of 6.8% but 21% higher than the previous five-year May average. Loaded exports came in at 125,656 TEUs, a 14.3% increase compared to the same period last year. May marked the highest level of exports processed at the Port of Los Angeles since November 2020. Empty containers reached 342,285 TEUs, down 6.6% compared to last year.

“Retailers replenished inventory throughout the spring and now we’ll see a transition to back-to-school goods, fall fashion and some early year-end holiday products,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “While American consumers have become more cost conscious, overall demand remains strong.”

“Meanwhile, we’ve reached a new productivity milestone on our docks,” Seroka added. “On average, 12,000 TEUs were discharged and loaded back on to every container vessel in May. That eclipsed our own previous best-in-the-business record of 11,300 TEUs recorded last summer.”

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