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Charleston Reports Strongest December Building Momentum for 2021

Charleston reports record December building momentum for 2021
Port of Charleston (file photo)

Published Jan 12, 2021 8:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

The South Carolina Ports Authority reports that it finished 2020 with its strongest December on record, with strong volumes for containers, vehicles, and at its inland ports. The Authority is looking to build on this strong momentum by investing in the Port of Charleston to support continued growth in 2021.

“The pandemic created unprecedented challenges to supply chains around the world,” SC Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “I am immensely proud of our port employees and all those working in the maritime and logistics community for showing up every day during a pandemic to keep supply chains fluid. Their dedication ensures that food products, medical supplies, manufacturing parts, and retail goods are efficiently delivered. We are grateful to them, and we look forward to a brighter 2021.”

In December, the container terminals in Charleston had a nearly 12 percent increase in volume to more than 209,000 TEUs. At the mind point in the Authority’s fiscal year, the port has handled more than 1.2 million TEUs. Loaded imports were up 14.4 percent, while loaded exports were up 8.6 percent, highlighting a strong balance for ocean carriers and the Southeast markets, said the port.

Vehicle volumes were exceptionally strong in December. SC Ports reports it handled 21,228 vehicles in December, which is better than a 29 percent increase from last year and an overall monthly vehicle record for SC Ports. Thus far in fiscal year 2021, SC Ports has moved 135,747 vehicles, which is up 17.42 percent compared to the same time a year prior.

SC Ports expect to continue the momentum in 2021 as it completes major infrastructure projects. These investments will enable SC Ports to handle four 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously, as well as a 19,000-TEU vessel.

The $1 billion Phase One of Charleston’s new container terminal is expected to be completed and open in March. The terminal includes a 1,400-foot wharf, five ship-to-shore cranes with 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck, 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes, and a 47-acre container yard.

Modernization efforts are also ongoing at one of Charleston’s existing container terminals. This includes updating the lift capacities in 2021 with 15 ship-to-shore cranes with 155 feet of lift height above the wharf deck.

The other significant project is the Charleston Harbor Deepening. To enable bigger ships to call at the port, the harbor is will achieve a 52 feet depth in 2021.