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Port of Savannah completes channel deepening project

Photo: Port of Savannah Port_of_Savannah_from_the_air
The Port of Savannah has completed a decades-long deepening project allowing it to serve larger vessels.

The deepening of the Savannah Harbour shipping channel by 1.52 metres began in 1997 with feasibilities studies, but dredging only started in September last year.  

The Georgia Ports Authority, US Army Corps of Engineers, Georgia Department of Transportation and dignitaries joined last Friday to mark the official completion of the project.

“After more than 20 years in the making, we are thrilled to mark this accomplishment today,” said Griff Lynch, Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority. “A deeper channel means more than just efficient passage for the largest vessels calling the US East Coast. It means continued opportunity, job growth and prosperity for the people of our state.”

Deepening the Savannah Harbour to 14.32 metres at mean low water (the average depth at low tide) will provide enough draft for 16,000-teu-vessels or more allowing ships to transit the river with more containers each trip and during more hours of the day. At high tide, water is 16.45 metres deep.

“That’s important to our exporters, because it means Georgia-grown and manufactured goods reach international markets faster,” said Joel Wooten, GPA Board Chairman. “The harbour deepening directly complements our overall mission to support growth through global commerce.”

“Complemented by unprecedented remediation efforts, the economic and environmental benefits provided through shipping efficiencies will drive healthy growth in the Southeast for decades to come,” said Col. Joseph R. Geary, Commander, Savannah District, US Army Corps of Engineers.

According to an Army Corps of Engineers study, the Savannah Harbour deepening project is expected to net more than $291m in annual benefits to the US.

In 2021, Savannah moved a record 5.6m teu, up about 20% compared to 2020. Recently GPA announced new expansion projects to raise capacity to 9.5m teu, up from the present 6m teu. 

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