BRUNSWICK, Ga. — The Port of Brunswick, Georgia, is poised to become the top auto and machinery port in the U.S., with 264 acres of land for development, according to Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) President and CEO Griff Lynch.
“Organic growth, a steady pipeline of new customers and the ability to take on new trade will boost Brunswick’s roll-on/foll-off volumes, which are already expanding at a strong rate,” Lynch said. “To accommodate anticipated market demand, GPA has initiated an aggressive infrastructure plan, strengthening Colonel’s Island for auto and machinery processing.”
In fiscal year 2023, Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick grew roll-on/roll-off volumes by 18% to more than 705,000 units of autos and heavy machinery, moving both into and out of the port, a news release stated.
Including the Ocean Terminal in Savannah’s roll-on/roll-off volumes, the GPA handled a record 723,515 units during this time period.
The Port of Brunswick served 610 vessel calls in fiscal year 2023, representing an increase of 11% over the year prior. Colonel’s Island handled 495 of those ships.
GPA Board Chairman Kent Fountain said Brunswick has room to grow as automakers move greater volumes through Georgia.
“At 1,700 acres, Brunswick is the nation’s premier gateway for auto and Ro/Ro cargo,” Fountain said. “Brunswick’s gateway port model features four on-site auto processors, room for customers to grow their business with three available parcels of land totaling 264 acres and direct access to Interstate 95 for car carrier and machinery trucks,” he said. “With on-terminal rail, Brunswick offers the fastest East Coast rail connections to inland markets.”
The port also features a new fumigation facility onsite which is the largest facility of its size for autos and machinery. Fumigation is required for cars and machinery shipped to Australia and New Zealand.
To accommodate growing volumes, the Port of Brunswick is undergoing improvements totaling more than $262 million. Construction has recently been completed on 350,000 square feet of near-dock warehousing that serves auto and machinery processing on the north side of Colonel’s Island Terminal. Three additional buildings representing 290,000 square feet and 122 acres of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo storage space are under construction on the south side of the island.
GPA has also won federal approval for a fourth Ro/Ro berth at Colonel’s Island, to enable more vessel calls. Currently in the engineering phase, this project will more efficiently accommodate vessels that can carry up to 7,000 vehicles.
A planned new rail yard on the south side of Colonel’s Island will enter the construction phase next year. This rail capacity improvement will extend Brunswick’s reach deeper into interior markets to capture more business.
Federally funded maintenance dredging is ongoing in the Brunswick River shipping channel. Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is awaiting funding for a project to enhance the efficiency of vessel transit by widening the channel and expansion of the turning basin at Colonel’s Island.
“Georgia Ports is focused on the growing market opportunity of global automotive manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers moving production to Mexico,” the news release stated. “This trend coupled with ocean carriers adding more services into Mexico ports with main haul and short sea services is tied to sourcing shifts which will add more auto volumes into the Port of Brunswick’s national gateway for distribution throughout the U.S.”
Lynch said the Port of Brunswick is part of a two-pillar strategy at GPA to “specialize and scale operations for customers,” with Colonel’s Island Terminal handling all future roll-on/roll-off cargo while the Port of Savannah concentrates on containerized trade.
The GPA is renovating Ocean Terminal in Savannah to serve as an all-container facility. The portion of GPA’s roll-on/roll-off cargo previously handled at Ocean Terminal is being shifted to Colonel’s Island.
“By concentrating on containers in Savannah and autos and machinery in Brunswick, we are able to streamline our operations and provide more efficient service to both of our main business sectors as cargo volumes continue to grow,” Lynch said.
Colonel’s Island trade
- 23 carmakers and 17 heavy machinery producers move cargo through the Port of Brunswick.
- The top five automakers by volume in fiscal year 2023 were Mercedes, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and GM.
- The top five heavy machinery producers by volume were Hyundai, John Deere, Caterpillar, Wirtgen and Hamm.
- In fiscal year 2023, Colonel’s Island handled 705,303 units (vehicles, heavy machinery, boats, static machinery, etc.), of which 75% was import, 25% export.
- Auto processors onsite in the Port of Brunswick perform services such as pre-delivery inspections, quality checks and remedial actions, as well as installation of accessories prior to delivery.
Infrastructure upgrades to Mayor’s Point Terminal breakbulk facility
Investments to support increasing breakbulk trade at Mayor’s Point Terminal in the Port of Brunswick include a new, 100,000 square-foot warehouse with up-to-date life safety improvements and flooring upgrades to handle heavy cargoes.
The building replaces an older, 50,000 square-foot structure. GPA has also upgraded the fender system on the docks to better serve larger vessels now calling the terminal. New and existing customers are already benefiting from the improvements. The facility handles forest products such as woodpulp, paper and paperboard, as well as raw rubber.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.