North American port news: Renovating Savannah

26 April 2023

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Starting in Georgia, DLM reports on developments from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of North America.

The Georgia Ports Authority Board 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.

“For nearly 40 years, Ocean Terminal has been handling a mix of container ships and breakbulk vessels. 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,” said Griff Lynch, executive director, GPA. “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.”

GPA plans to shift breakbulk cargo carried by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean to Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick.

Construction has started on 360,000ft2 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.

The 200-acre Ocean Terminal facility will be modified in two phases. 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 recently expanded its crane purchase by one, for a total of eight cranes slated for Ocean Terminal.

“As the dock construction progresses, GPA will continue to operate container ships at Ocean Terminal,” said Ed McCarthy, COO, Georgia Ports. “The work – which is funded by GPA’s Series 2022 Revenue Bonds – will be conducted alongside container and breakbulk operations.”

Apart from new cranes and berth enhancements, the overall project will bring expanded gate facilities and paving to allow for 1.5 million twenty foot equivalent (TEU) container units of annual capacity. Wharf renovations began in January 2023, with completion of the entire terminal redevelopment expected in 2026.

The Port of Savannah is coming off its busiest October ever, in which it handled nearly 553,000 TEUs. Lynch said the opening of a new container berth at Garden City Terminal this summer and volume declining from historic highs will help expedite vessel service, which saw backlogs during the height of demand.

“While we are beginning to see an anticipated market correction, it is important that GPA moves forward with projects like the Ocean Terminal enhancements to accommodate business growth,” said Joel Wooten, chairman, GPA Board. “Through continued infrastructure improvement, we will ensure the free flow of commerce, and our ability to meet expanding customer demand.”

Over the past year, the GPA Board has approved $1.17bn in infrastructure advancements, including expansions to berth, container yard and rail infrastructure.


Harris County Commissioners Court and the Houston City Council have reappointed Ric Campo to serve as chairman of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority of Harris County, Texas. He was first appointed to the position in January 2019. Among the notable achievements during Campo’s tenure was his leadership of Port Houston’s work to widen and deepen the Houston Ship Channel, the $1bn expansion infrastructure programme known as Project 11.

“As the nation’s largest port for waterborne tonnage, the Houston Ship Channel is critically important for our economy as it moves goods in and out of the region,” said Sylvester Turner, Mayor of Houston.

“Ric Campo has been an outstanding Port Houston chairman for the past several years. Tonnage is up, revenue is up, and the channels are being widened and deepened. I am confident he will continue to guide the strategic development of the Houston Ship Channel in a way that continues to benefit the entire Houston region.”

Campo said Port Houston continues to be a major generator of jobs in the region and he is excited about opportunities in 2023 and beyond, continuing work on the $1bn investment in deepening and widening the Houston Ship Channel, and the $1.1bn in landside investments expanding and improving facilities.

“We will continue our commitment to excellence in environmental stewardship, community improvement, and workforce and supplier diversity,” he said.

Campo is chairman of the board and CEO of Camden Property Trust and has served in that capacity since May 1993.

At the same meeting where Campo’s reappointment was announced, the governing bodies also appointed Reginald McKamie to continue to serve as chairman of the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports.

“I look forward to the challenges and opportunities the Project 11 expansion of the waterway will bring. I look forward to our board working together with the Houston Pilot Association to lay the foundation now, so that we will be prepared and ready to continue safe and efficient ship transits with the projected growth the Project 11 expansion will bring,” he said.


Liebherr Container Cranes is to carry out a ship-to-shore (STS) lift height increase with a new patented jacking system with Global Container Terminals (GCT) New York LP (Limited Partnership) in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

GCT New York LP operates four Liebherr STS container cranes. Supplied in 2004, the cranes have a lift height of 36.57m and an outreach of 50m. Working in partnership with Liebherr USA, GCT will undertake a significant Liebherr Transform project to extend the lift height of the cranes by 8.6m and the outreach of the cranes by 5m (two bays).

When complete, the cranes will have the ability to work the largest vessels currently calling at the Port of New York and New Jersey, allowing GCT to better service their customers.

“We have worked closely with our customers in GCT New York to develop a tailor-made solution that will meet their growth needs over the coming years. In line with the well-known life expectancy of Liebherr cranes, GCT can expect many more years of quality service from their existing machines,” said Torsten Paas, divisional manager, Liebherr USA. “GCT will benefit from extended operational ability of their cranes at a fraction of the cost of replacing their cranes.”

Designed and built by Liebherr Container Cranes in Ireland, one of the key features of the system is that it uses the crane’s end carriage as a solid base for jacking the crane structure, eliminating the need for additional equipment. Since the system uses the crane structure as a basis for jacking, the loadings are low and are carried through the existing crane.

Preparation takes a couple of weeks, and the flexible system allows the crane to be jacked in position or moved back from the rails for jacking if required. The actual crane raise and the insertion of the extensions can be completed in a number of hours and so is suited to terminals prone to high winds.

The process can be completed from as little as four weeks per crane. Following completion of the project, the jacks are containerised and shipped onwards for their next deployment.


DP World and Port Saint John on Canada’s Atlantic coast have welcomed two new post-Panamax cranes to the container terminal.

The new additions, Hyundai Heavy Industries container cranes, bring the number of cranes at Port Saint John to four. They have an outreach of 19ft, can reach up to 21 containers wide and are capable of servicing vessels with a capacity between 10,000 and 14,000 TEUs.

They arrived from South Carolina, US, and are the bigger brothers to the two cranes that arrived in 2016.

DP World, a global end-to-end logistics solutions provider, said the cranes would strengthen the port’s position as an integral part of the Atlantic Gateway, and mark a significant milestone in Port Saint John’s $205m modernisation project – a three-way partnership between the Government of Canada, the Province of New Brunswick and Port Saint John.

Donna Noade Reardon, mayor, City of Saint John, New Brunswick, said: “We are thrilled to have a global partner like DP World investing in Port Saint John… The new cranes will significantly increase shipping capacity, reaffirming Saint John’s position on the global stage as a world-class container option.”

“The arrival of these two cranes is symbolic of the growth we can offer not only to port business, but also to our community and our region,” added Craig Bell Estabrooks, president and CEO of Port Saint John. “Soon we will have more than double the capacity to move product and to create jobs… With every new milestone we hit, we solidify our position as one of Canada’s top ports.”

Maksim Mihic, CEO and general manager DP World (Canada), said: “With connections to 500 ports worldwide, intermodal transportation and three class-one railways, Port Saint John is well positioned for growth for the foreseeable future. The investments being made throughout the trade ecosystem including logistics services will make the port a more competitive gateway for decades to come.” 

Maritime Leader Award

As well as being reappointed to serve as chairman of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority of Harris County, Texas, the Greater Houston Port Bureau named Camden Property Trust chairman and CEO Ric Campo the 2022 Maritime Leader of the Year during the 93rd Annual Port Bureau Maritime Dinner.

The 200-acre Ocean Terminal facility.
Ric Campo was reappointed in Houston.
Liebherr Container Cranes’ new patented jacking system.
DP World and Port Saint John have welcomed two new post-Panamax cranes.