JEKYLL ISLAND, Ga. – Members from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, attended the 2023 Brunswick State of the Port Luncheon held at the Jekyll Island Convention Center Oct. 30, 2023.
The Brunswick event followed just two weeks after the 2023 Savannah State of the Port held Oct. 12, at the Savannah Convention Center.
Jonathan Broadie, chief of navigation, and Chris Wheeler, navigation project manager for Brunswick, sat at the head table during the Georgia Ports Authority-led event.
“We work closely with GPA and other port users to communicate shoaling identified on channel condition surveys and our schedule for dredging them,” said Broadie. “Understanding the state of the Port of Brunswick from GPA’s perspective allows us to properly budget for future dredging needs.”
The Port of Brunswick primarily operates as an auto and machinery port for roll--on/roll--off cargo and GPA is aiming to make it the top Ro/Ro port by 2026. The GPA plans to suspend all Ro/Ro cargo operations at the Port of Savannah and shift those operations to the Port of Brunswick.
The expected growth at Brunswick will increase the number of vessels entering the harbor as well as the size of those vessels.
A feasibility study was conducted on March 11, 2022, by the District that recommended a plan to improve the economic efficiency of commercial navigation in Brunswick Harbor.
The study identified areas that needed to be deepened and widened to allow for larger vessels to access the Brunswick Harbor to strengthen supply chains and promoting economic growth while still protecting the environment.
The plan includes creation of the Cedar Hammock Range bend widener and the expansion of the turning basin at Colonel’s Island Terminal. A vessel meeting area, located at St. Simon’s Sound, is also part of the project but will not require dredging from the District.
Griff Lynch, President and CEO of the GPA, provided an update on the infrastructure at the Port of Brunswick and discussed the three components of the harbor during his address.
“If we are going to grow, doing all the things we can do on this plan side, we also need to make sure that the ships, with increased volume, can be handled seamlessly as well,” said Lynch. “We worked very closely with our pilots to design this – these are the things that they asked for to handle the ships.”
Samantha Holtzinger, project manager for the Brunswick Modification Project, said that approximately 205,000 cubic yards will be removed to expand the bend widener and 346,000 cubic yards will be removed from the turning basin.
While the dredged material from the turning basin will be placed in the Andrew’s Island Dredged Material Containment Area, another plan is proposed for the dredged material removed from the bend widener.
“We received a Beneficial Use proposal from the Jekyll Island Authority,” said Holtzinger. “The proposal would place the dredged material on a small area on Jekyll Island to stabilize a hotspot of marsh erosion. We are currently evaluating the feasibility of this proposal.”
The Brunswick Harbor Modification Project is expected to be funded in Fiscal Year 24 with construction starting early FY25.