The Georgia Ports Authority has qualified for a federal security clearance called AQUA Lane that streamlines the unloading of ships at the dock, port leaders said today.
Prior to August 1, vessels arriving at the facility would have to wait for U.S. Customs to clear their cargo and crew prior to the start of cargo operations. Since the duration of the clearance process is unpredictable, that process often resulted in port labor waiting dockside to start operations.
But now, vessels calling on the Port of Savannah can start work as soon as they arrive, without having to wait for final clearance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). That creates a “fast lane” for port operations, enabling faster unloading of ships, shortening port stays, and saving time and money for ocean carriers and supply chains, the port says.
Georgia joins nearly two dozen other U.S. ports that have gained the certification, spanning the East, Gulf, and West coasts, according to a recent list from CBP.
Under the Advanced Qualified Unlading Approval Lane (AQUA Lane) program, ocean carriers must be enrolled in the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) program, be in good standing with CBP, and stipulate AQUA Lane status when they transmit their manifest to U.S. Customs prior to arriving in a U.S. port. Arriving vessels must still obtain Customs clearance, but they may begin unloading and loading cargo while the clearance process is under way. Crewmembers will still need to await normal clearance from CBP before disembarking.
“GPA works closely with our customers and our CBP partners to find ways to safely improve supply chain flow and reduce port costs for customers. Ocean carriers calling our facilities are looking for ways to make their port stay more productive and improve their end-to-end supply chain service for customers,” said GPA Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy. “AQUA Lane brings more certainty to supply chain velocity with faster cargo operations on inbound vessels.”