Port officials in Savannah, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Wilmington, North Carolina, along with the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, have signed an agreement to upgrade and expand the South Atlantic Chassis Pool (SACP).

Dubbed SACP 3.0, the agreement among the Georgia Ports Authority, Jacksonville Port Authority, North Carolina State Ports Authority and the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association calls for up to 50,000 new high-tech intermodal chassis to handle the international container trade to and from major southeastern U.S. Atlantic ports.

Planning and implementation of the new agreement will take place over the next 18 months, officials said. There are currently 60,000 chassis in the SACP pool.

“The three ports were of the view that a new vision was needed for intermodal container chassis in the US. We believe the SACP 3.0 will achieve that vision,” Brian Clark, executive director of the North Carolina State Ports Authority, said. 

The agreement will create the largest fully interoperable chassis pool in the U.S., covering the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to a release.

“This pool will be a game changer for all stakeholders in the Southeastern U.S. by upgrading the region’s intermodal chassis fleet through the creation of a true industry utility,” Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, said. “We wanted to build on the proven strengths of the SACP by adding upgraded capacity and improved ability to respond to market changes affecting container transport service throughout the Southeastern U.S.”

Ports and ocean carriers have operated under the SACP 2.0 agreement for several years. In May, the South Carolina Ports Authority — which includes the Port of Charleston and Inland Port Greer — announced it was leaving the SACP 2.0 agreement to operate its own chassis pool by May 2022.

While South Carolina Ports Authority, the Port of Charleston and Inland Port Greer will be leaving the SACP pool, “the plan is for SACP to service the South Carolina market with an off-dock offering,” according to Lisa Aurichio, a spokeswoman for Consolidated Chassis Management (CCM).

CCM is a trade association for the chassis industry and is an affiliate of the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association, a group of 10 major international container carriers operating in all major U.S. ports and inland locations.

“All stakeholders in the intermodal chain have felt the strain of sustained high volumes over the past 15 months,” said Jeff Lawrence, executive director of Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association.

The majority of intermodal chassis and marine containers are manufactured in China. In May, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission announced tariffs on Chinese-made chassis, leading to a shortage across the country.

“The ports have challenged us to work with them to build a true chassis utility that will deliver the most resilient, efficient and environmentally sound regional chassis fleet this country has ever seen. With the close cooperation of the three major ports and 10 major ocean carriers, we believe that objective is very achievable,” Lawrence said.

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