The Port of Savannah is now home to the “Savannah Giant,” one of the most powerful barge-based cranes on the Eastern Seaboard. If you have occasion to cross the Talmadge Bridge, you may have seen the big crane working a ship at Ocean Terminal, its construction-yellow “stick” rising high above the docks.
With the ability to lift 500 tons, the crane is designed to move outsized and heavy cargo directly from ships at Ocean Terminal to rail or heavy haul trucks, according to Stacy Watson, Georgia Ports general manager of economic and industrial development.
The Savannah Giant was purchased through a $3 million OneGeorgia state grant administered by the Savannah Economic Development Authority as part of an agreement with Mitsubishi Power Systems, whose Savannah Machinery Works is located on the Pooler megasite.
When the company was looking for a place to build its new $350 million state-of-the-art turbine plant — the first outside of Japan — it indicated one of the first requirements would be a deepwater port and the ability to lift heavy components from ship to rail.
While Georgia Ports Authority’s Ocean Terminal fit the first part of that requirement, the second part required some creative maneuvering. Ocean Terminal already had cranes capable of lifting up to 175 tons, but Mitsubishi’s heaviest components weighed in at between 400 and 500 tons.
Watson, never one to back down from a challenge, brought in engineers to make sure the terminal docks could support that much weight, then solicited the help of railroad officials to make sure Mitsubishi’s largest components would fit in railcars and clear the terminal.
While Watson made sure Mitsubishi’s request was doable, SEDA got to work finding a way to finance such a huge crane.
Up and running for almost a year now, the Savannah Giant — operated by Savannah Heavy Lift, a sister company of Stevens Towing — not only provides a crucial service for Mitsubishi, it gives other manufacturers the ability to move their heaviest loads into — and out of — the port of Savannah.