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SAVANNAH, GA: MAY 15, 2017. COSCO Development, at 13,000 TEU the largest box ship to call at an U.S. East Coast port, moved a record 10,000 containers during its 30-hour call at the Port of Savannah on May 12.

Crews were able to complete more than 220 container moves per hour during a period in which the Georgia Port Authority (GPA) and International Longshoremen worked a total of nine vessels, moving more than 21,600 TEUs.

According to Drewry Maritime Research, world container traffic rose an unexpected 10 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to he same period last year.

COSCO Dev and  GA gov. Nahan Dean"It's fair to say that the few, if any, saw this extreme growth coming," Drewry declared. "If confirmed, a quarterly rate of 10 percent for loaded container traffic would far exceed anything seen since 2010 - when demand rebounded sharply following the crash of 2009."

GPA executive director Griff Lynch said the port call of the COSCO vessel is the start of a new era in the U.S. East Coast container trade: "With their shift to larger, more cost-effective vessels, the shipping lines are gravitating toward gateway ports. The Port of Savannah is perfectly suited to handle the larger exchanges of Neo-Panamax vessels."

According to the GPA, Savannah handled 8.2 percent of U.S. containerized cargo and 10.3 percent of all containerized exports in 2015.

"Savannah is already the load center for trade in the U.S. Southeast, but deepening our harbor to better accommodate vessels such as the 'Development will make Savannah even more attractive to cargo owners," added Lynch.

When completed in 2021, the Savannah's harbor expansion will result in a depth of 49 feet at low tide at its outer entrance and 47 feet in the inner harbor. As a result, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forecasts a US$262 million saving for companies moving goods through Savannah's Garden City Terminal.

Georgia's deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 369,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute US$20.4 billion in income, US$84.1 billion in revenue and US$2.3 billion in state and local taxes to its economy.

"This is another example of how the Port of Savannah is the gateway not just for the U.S. Southeast, but for America's East Coast," said Georgia governor Nathan Deal, speaking at the call of the COSCO Development (pictured). "The numbers are impressive; our customers have spoken, and the Port of Savannah is clearly the must-call port," he declared.

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