- The Georgia Port Authority and the Port of Virginia are seeking permission from the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to form the “East Coast Gateway Terminal Agreement,” according to a recent press release.
- The pair of port authorities wish to collaborate to create a corridor with enough landside infrastructure to ensure the safe passage of increased volume from post-Panamax ships.
- Additional areas of cooperation include the sharing of best practices for terminal operating systems in training, cargo handling, access, turn-times and infrastructure, as well as the advancement of water routes from the U.S. East Coast to the Panama Canal.
The improvements made at East and Gulf Coast ports in order to secure business have been extensive in recent years, ranging from the $142 million expansion and improvement project launched in 2015 in Georgia, to Virginia's cash influx of $350 million to aid its ports in handling 696,000 standard 20-foot containers a year by 2019.
Virginia's water harbor is the deepest on the East Coast, and is the sixth largest containerized cargo complex in the United States. Additionally, it boasts 50-foot channels both inbound and outbound, and is the sole East Coast port to earn Congressional authorization for 55 foot dredging, which aids in hosting the giant post-Panamax ships transporting thousands of TEUs per day. The port also offers 6 terminals; sits on 1,864 acres; hosts 19,885 L.F. of berth, and supports 30 miles of on-dock rail.
The Port of Savannah is reknowned for being the fourth most active retail shipping port. In 2015, business increased by 17% to 3.7 million container units, a number not expected until 2019. Between 2000 and 2014, the port grew 9%, faster than any other U.S. port.
Carving out competitive advantage is critical for these smaller ports. Given that Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina are similar in terms of geographic location and services offered, working together through a southeastern strategic partnership is the strongest way to build market share against the rest of the country's ports. Los Angeles and Long Beach, and Seattle and Tacoma have provided the template for cooperation; the southeast intends to follow their lead.