The Georgia coastal city is known for manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Its historic district is filled with cobble-stoned squares and parks such as Forsyth Park shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss. It has its own rich history and lots of great restaurants. The official guide to the city offers: “Savannah, Georgia is a charming Southern escape where art, period architecture, trendy boutiques and ghost stories are all set under a veil of Spanish moss. Savannah is a place where cuisine comes straight from the coast and cocktails are served at every meal.”

Did you know it is the third largest container shipping port in the nation behind only Long Beach, CA and New York?

Hardly a tourist spot, but it is at the epicenter of the on-going, no-end-in-sight supply chain problems facing the world. Currently there are 80,000 shipping containers at the port, far more than the normal 57,000. The containers are waiting for ships to carry them to their final destination, or for trucks to haul them to warehouses that are themselves stuffed to the rafters. They are running out of places to put things at one of the largest ports in the United States. And that does not count more than 20 ships stuck anchored up to 17 miles off the coast in the Atlantic waiting for berthing space to off load their cargo. In the month of September, Port of Savannah had 4,500 containers that had been stuck in place for more than 30 days. Those containers were filled with all manner of things. A friend has been waiting for newly ordered furniture for 6 months. Maybe the sofa is in Savannah.

The port is not just a set of berths for ships, it has extensive acreage and buildings in the primary port and more than 6 satellite facilities for storage/shipping logistics. They are in the process of adding 230 acres of storage space to their already massive capacity. Even next to the berthing area, they are  extending the storage yard across another 80 acres, adding room for 6,000 more containers. The rail yard is adding 18 tracks from five to allow more trains to pull in, building out an alternative to trucking.

And all this includes increasing the stacking height of the containers to five high. (I think my friend’s furniture is in the bottom container.) Stop and consider the incredible and complex ballet of movement needed between off loading of cargo and the ultimate placement of the container on transportation out of the port.

I had previously written about ports and supply chains. It is a topic that fascinates me… and worries all manner of folks from top to bottom of the supply chain.

Photo credit: Peter Goodman, NYT online edition “Morning Report” – as well some information used in the post

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