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Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM ‘temporarily’ steering 2 services away from Savannah

Port congestion sending port calls to Charleston and Jacksonville

Hapag-Lloyd is temporarily moving a service stop from the Port of Savannah to JAXPORT. (Photo: JAXPORT)

Hapag-Lloyd and CMA CGM have announced two services are “temporarily” bypassing Savannah, Georgia. 

CMA CGM said Wednesday that its Amerigo service, which connects the western Mediterranean to the U.S. East Coast, will “temporarily stop calling Savannah due to severe congestion in this port — eight to 10 days — and in order to protect schedule integrity and weekly sailing frequency.”

The service instead will call South Carolina’s Port of Charleston, beginning with the scheduled arrival of the CMA CGM La Traviata on Nov. 27. The La Traviata has capacity for 8,488 twenty-foot equivalent units. 

The waters off the Port of Savannah remained crowded late Wednesday afternoon. (Image: MarineTraffic)

Jim Newsome, South Carolina Ports Authority president and CEO, said this week that the Port of Charleston has the bandwidth to handle more imports. 

“While the global supply chain remains under tremendous pressure, SC Ports is fortunate to have invested in the right infrastructure at the right time. We have the cargo capacity, berth availability and terminal fluidity that retailers need to quickly move their cargo as we head into the peak season,” Newsome said.

Hapag-Lloyd said its Atlantic Loop 3 service temporarily will bypass Savannah and instead call Jacksonville, Florida.

The German ocean carrier did not give congestion at the Port of Savannah as the reason, only saying the move was made “to optimize our service portfolio, stabilize schedules and adapt to market needs.”

Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen did mention Port of Savannah congestion during a call with reporters earlier this month. 

“If we look at the United States, that’s probably where we still have most of the difficulties, not only in LA/Long Beach but also in other ports on the West Coast, but also increasingly at ports on the East Coast, where places like Savannah and New York are heavily congested.”

Hapag-Lloyd’s port call change will begin with the Oct. 31 sailing of the Hudson Express from Antwerp, Belgium. The vessel is scheduled to arrive at JAXPORT’s TraPac Container Terminal on Nov. 18. The port rotation will be Antwerp; Hamburg, Germany; London; Charleston; Jacksonville; and Norfolk, Virginia.

CEO Eric Green said JAXPORT stands ready. 

“During this time of unprecedented port disruption, Jacksonville’s efficiencies on both the landside and waterside continue to make us stand out in the industry,” Green said in a statement. “With our strategic location — and the efficiencies of our labor, terminal operators, facilities and transportation network — there’s no question Jacksonville is an extremely attractive option for ocean carriers and shippers looking to take advantage of the ease of doing business Jacksonville offers.”

Savannah’s congestion also wasn’t cited in JAXPORT’s announcement, although it did say there were no container vessels waiting at anchorage outside the Florida port. 

JAXPORT is only 130 nautical miles south of the Port of Savannah, but the two operations are much farther apart in terms of size. The Georgia Ports Authority moved more than 4.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2020. JAXPORT handled about 1.27 million TEUs during its 2020 fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

JAXPORT is in the midst of a federal project to deepen the shipping channel to 47 feet and allow it to handle larger vessels. That work is expected to be completed next year. 

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Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

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Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.