The MOL Benefactor is the first vessel to call on Savannah through the new locks of the expanded Panama Canal. At a capacity of 10,100 20-foot equivalent container units, the Benefactor is also the largest ship ever to call the Port of Savannah.
The massive container ship, scheduled to move over 3,000 containers at GPA's Garden City terminal, is also the first Savannah call of the G6 Alliance's new NYX service. The East Coast rotation of the new service includes the ports of New York/New Jersey, Virginia and Savannah, exclusively deploying vessels in the 10,000-TEU range.
"The arrival of the MOL Benefactor today ushers in a new era of larger vessels and services that will increase capacity, volumes and economic opportunities for Georgia and this region," said Griff Lynch, GPA's executive director. "GPA is well-positioned to handle the larger vessels and greater volumes due to the scale and scope of our operations."
With eight new neo-panamax cranes on order, GPA will have a total of 30 ship-to-shore cranes by 2018. GPA has also added 30 rubber-tired gantry cranes - used to handle containers on terminal - for a current fleet of 146 machines - the most of any single container terminal in the U.S. "Over the next six months to a year, we expect a higher ratio of 8,000- to 10,000- TEU container ships among our vessels calls. Within two years, we expect market shifts to send 12,000-TEU vessels to the U.S. East Coast," Lynch added.
To better accommodate the larger vessels via water, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) will deepen the inner harbor to 47 feet and the outer harbor to 49 feet at mean low water. The outer portion of the harbor is now 15 percent complete with work progressing daily.
The Benefactor's next stop is Manzanillo International Terminal in Panama.