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 this week.
In his seventh address at the annual Propeller Club of Charleston 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.
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 firmly in place and 90 percent of new ocean vessels to be built for 7,500 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.
In addition to the completion of harbor deepening, SCPA will also focus on investments to terminal capacity and infrastructure, including construction progress on the Navy Base Terminal and Wando Welch Terminal wharf strengthening project.
Newsome cited the State of South Carolina as a committed partner in the Port’s long-term success, with planned investments in port-related infrastructure including harbor deepening, the Navy Base Terminal access road and Intermodal Container Transfer Facility.