In September, Col. Daniel Hibner, commander of the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, announced that deepening had begun for the inner portion of the Savannah Harbor. This initiates the final construction phase of the 20-year effort to deepen the third busiest container port in the United States.
“The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is unique among other deepening projects in the value it brings to the nation,” Hibner said. “The deepening of the Savannah Harbor will yield exceptional economic benefits to the entire nation.”
For example, a deeper channel will bring a net increase of more than $282 million per year to the economy. For every $1 spent on deepening the harbor, the economy will receive $7.30 in benefits, according to the Corps’ studies.
Once finished the harbor will be 47 feet deep, as opposed to the current 42-foot authorized depth. The Corps completed deepening the outer harbor, from approximately Fort Pulaski National Monument to 19 miles into the Atlantic Ocean, in March 2018.
The Corps of Engineers partnered with multiple contractors and agencies to reach this point in the deepening process. Chief among the partners were the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority.
“The Georgia Ports Authority is incredibly grateful for the work of our federal partners in bringing this project to fruition,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said. “Deeper water at the Port of Savannah will allow Georgia to better accommodate the largest ships calling on the East Coast today. The lower container slot costs on larger, more efficient vessels not only save our port customers money, they lower the price of American-made goods overseas.”
“Thanks to all our great partnerships, the deepening remains on schedule, and we’re anticipating a fully deepened channel by January 2022 – or just a little more than two years from now,” Hibner said. “And I’m proud to say the SHEP does all this while remaining environmentally friendly. My team’s solutions-based approach and initiative demonstrate that the unprecedented environmental component of the deepening is just as important to us as the navigation component.” The project’s environmental mitigation accounts for roughly half of the entire project cost.
The Norfolk Dredging Company secured the contract for this phase of the deepening. Their dredging operations will continue around the clock daily. Workers will be in the channel from approximately Fort Pulaski, up the Savannah River to the Garden City port.