The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) in the southern US has recorded processing more than 700,000 vehicles and machinery units in its results for fiscal year 2014 (July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014), with the majority handled by the port of Brunswick’s dedicated Colonel’s Island automotive and machinery terminal. Brunswick moved 670,866 units over the period. The port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal added another 29,548 for a record total of 700,414 units.

Imports accounted for the greater number of vehicle movements at the Colonel’s Island terminal at Brunswick at 533,221 vehicles, an increase of more than 17% over the previous fiscal year. Exports of vehicles over the period reached 130,797, an increase of 18.4% over the same period in the previous year.

Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz and VW are just the leading three carmakers of a total of 21 that use the port.

In terms of heavy ro-ro movements, including construction and mining equipment, buses, and agricultural equipment, the terminal handled 6,848 units, an increase of more than 35%. There were also 3,465 units of static cargo moved, an increase of more than 30% on the previous fiscal year. Customers include Caterpillar, Deere, JCB, Kobelco and Komatsu America.

The Savannah Ocean Terminal, meanwhile, led with exports of 26,375 units, up 46%, led by carmakers Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Nissan. Imports for the fiscal year, meanwhile stood at 2,173 units.

“Ocean Terminal import vehicles were up 4,427% from only 48 units the previous year,” said a spokesperson for the Authority. “This increase is not typical. There was a one-time diversion for a vessel with vehicles to Ocean Terminal.”

At the Ocean Terminal in Savannah GPA only keeps track of the tonnage and not the number of units for the machinery imports or exports. It moved 88,808 short tons of machinery such as construction and agricultural equipment, up 16.7% over the previous fiscal year.

Room for expansion
GPA has a US Corporation of Engineer's permit in hand for 300 hectares of development on the Colonel's Island facility and said it was in a position to move forward with OEMs and auto processors as their plans for expansion continue. Auto processors using the port include Amports, International Auto Processors and WWL AVP. Carmakers with their own processing facilities there include BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

“The available land and infrastructure are keys to maintaining our competitiveness and growth,” said a spokesperson, adding that Brunswick was the number one US port for new vehicle imports.

“The Colonel’s Island ro-ro port has great road, rail and berthing infrastructure,” continued the spokesperson. “The Georgia Ports Authority has recently been authorised funding to design and acquire the permits for the construction of a forth berth on Colonel's Island.

Colonel's Island connects via a four-lane highway (US Highway 17) to Interstate 95, a just 4kms from the terminal. In terms of rail, CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railroad serve Colonel’s Island via the Golden Isles Terminal Railroad.

The Colonel's Island ro-ro terminal has the capability of handling unit trains of vehicles according to the company. The Golden Isles Terminal Railroad switches the rail cars from Anguilla Junction to the Myd Harris Rail Yard on Colonel’s Island 19kms away.

“At Anguilla Junction there are five tracks totalling 7,391 meters of storage track,” said the Authority. “At Myd Harris there are eight tracks totaling 4,575 meters of storage track. There is a mile long passing track between Anguilla Junction and Myd Harris. There is also additional storage and a switching rail track on Colonel’s Island. Even with this great rail infrastructure we have designated a location for additional rail expansion as needed on Colonel's Island.”