Sustaining above-market container volume growth achieving the deepest harbor on the East Coast investing in infrastructure and expanding its cargo base topped the list of South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) five-year initiatives highlighted at the State of the Port event in September.
In his seventh address at the annual event president and CEO Jim Newsome reflected on the volume and revenue gains that well-position SCPA to face the challenges ahead for South Carolina’s public port system.
SCPA reported a nearly 15 percent fiscal year-over-year increase in container volume in 2015 handling 1.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Charleston breakbulk grew seven percent over planned volumes with 900000 pier tons handled during FY2015. A record-breaking 253338 vehicles moved across SCPA docks up 15 percent from the previous record of 219900 vehicles in FY2008.
Planned volume gains are also linked to Charleston’s compelling opportunity to serve big ships calling the East Coast. With alliances among the major shipping lines in place and 90 percent of new ocean vessels to be built for 7500 TEUs or greater shippers will become increasingly dependent on ports to offer deep and wide harbors for reliable access. The expansion of the Panama Canal and raising of the Bayonne Bridge in New Jersey both slated for completion next year will also bring post-Panamax vessels to the Southeast in greater frequency.
SCPA’s efforts to deepen the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet are on schedule with a firm focus on expediting the Preconstruction Engineering and Design Phase of the project. Construction is expected to be completed by 2020 enabling Charleston Harbor to offer shippers 24-hour access to 48 feet of draft.