During the annual State of the Port, South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) president and CEO Jim Newsome focused on the port’s strategic plans for volume growth and infrastructure investment.
The Propeller Club of Charleston event, held yesterday, marked Newsome’s ninth address since joining SCPA in 2009. He discussed the trends dominating today’s shipping industry and the benefits of a growing port to the state’s and region’s economy.
“Last fiscal year was a great year for the port,” Newsome said. “Our success benefits the entire state, and by supporting the global supply chains of companies across South Carolina and the region, we are a job creator. We have been very successful in quietly doing what ports should do – keep freight moving in a consistent manner for our customers. We seek to be a reliable, invisible supply chain partner.”
The year was highlighted by significant progress of key port infrastructure projects. The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to 52 feet was authorized and named a “new start” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, allowing construction to begin this fall. At the Wando Welch Terminal, new 155-foot ship-to-shore cranes were commissioned, a refrigerated cargo service area opened, and the wharf modernization project is nearing completion.
FY17 also marked a series of big ship calls, including the May 13 arrival of the COSCO Development, the first 13,000 TEU vessel to call East Coast ports.
The port celebrated its biggest ship call to date on September 14, when the 14,414 TEU CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt docked at the Wando Welch Terminal.
SCPA now routinely works 13,000-14,000 TEU vessels as part of the weekly OCEAN Alliance South Atlantic Express (SAX) service and expects to handle additional services with vessels of this size as early as next year.
A record $262.3 million capital investment plan in FY18 sets the stage for Port to make significant progress on key projects, including terminal updates, new terminal capacity, a deeper harbor and a new headquarters.
Longer term, SCPA and the State of South Carolina are investing more than $2 billion in port and port-related facilities by 2021 to fulfill the requirements of a modern port in today’s big-ship environment.
The largest investment by the State is the harbor deepening project, for which the S.C. General Assembly set aside $300 million in 2012. Construction on the project will soon begin, marking a historic accomplishment that will make Charleston the deepest harbor on the entire East Coast.