SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A logistical crunch that has put ports in California behind schedule is also affecting shipping vessels on the East Coast.
The Port of Savannah reports 25 ships are anchored in the ocean awaiting their turn to dock, according to Griff Lynch, the Georgia Ports Authority executive director.
Lynch said it’s the result of a multitude of issues that involve the supply chain, and they’re working 24/7 to unload as many containers as possible.
“The activity you see happening in the middle of the day is also happening in the middle of the night every day of the week,” Lynch said.
On Friday, Lynch told reporters that crews were working to unload seven container vessels to free up room for those still at sea. He said there are bumps in the road but not all have been caused by the port.
“I want to make sure we make that clear, the entire supply chain is challenged and we’re just one piece of it,” Lynch said. “So if there’s not enough warehousing and the cargo backs up, it’s going to impact the port and the number of vessels we have at anchor.”
Lynch said they’re working to get more port storage space and also to have more containers moved by rail instead of having to be trucked from the port.
He added there has been a large backlog of thousands of containers but in the past two weeks that backlog has been reduced by up to 70%. He thanked truckers for that effort.
He said there have been 14,000 truck “moves” per day in the past few weeks, which is a truck going into the port and coming out with one or two containers.
Lynch also said in every crisis there can be opportunity. “Our business for July through September is up 16 percent,” he said. “And our business for January through September is up more than 25 percent.”
Lynch also said last month was the “best September the port has had.”
In nine months, the port has added 850,000 additional TEUs of business. A TEU is the way the industry measures a container unit.
Griff says for every 10 additional containers, one job in Georgia can be created.
About $700 million worth of projects are currently planned at the port including a new berth plus more storage capacity at the port and new rail lines.
Lynch said that there are a lot of challenges right now with the bottleneck of ships but that employees at the port are working hard to improve conditions over the next couple of months.
Lynch said he thinks goods will be on store shelves by the holidays and retailers seem confident of that as well. He does caution, however, that there may be a few problems.
“Sometimes if you look at what you think might be happening you would think nothing is going to be on the shelves. I would say what we’re struggling for here is to get 90 percent on the shelves. So, I think that there are some things that might not make it but the sky is not falling,” Lynch said.