SCPA Continues Investing in Port Infrastructure

SCPA CEO Jim Newsome, Image source: SCPA

South Carolina Ports Authority President and CEO, Jim Newsome, delivered his 11 th State of the Port address yesterday to more than 900 business executives, elected officials, SCPA customers and members of the maritime community.

The Propeller Club of Charleston hosted the annual event in North Charleston.

“Only eight states in the country have a top 10 container port, and South Carolina is one of them,” Newsome said.

“Global businesses locate near major ports, and our port is incredibly well run. The secret to making our port work is the people, and I am immensely proud of the work they do to make us the preferred port in the U.S.”

In fiscal year 2019, SCPA invested in infrastructure, moved into a new headquarters building, further deepened Charleston Harbor and handled the most cargo in Port history.

SCPA handled nearly 2.4 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in fiscal year 2019, up 8.8% from the year prior. SCPA moved approximately 195,000 vehicles and more than 625,000 pier tons.

Realizing major infrastructure projects

S.C. Ports plans to complete three major infrastructure projects by the end of 2021: upgrading Wando Welch Terminal, opening a new container terminal and deepening Charleston Harbor.

“SCPA remains focused on modernizing Wando Welch Terminal, leading to a capacity of 2.4 million TEUs. By the end of 2020, the Wando terminal will be able to handle three 14,000-TEU ships simultaneously,” according to their official announcement.

SCPA has made major strides on building the future Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston; it is the first greenfield container terminal in the U.S. since 2009.

The first phase, which includes a 1,400-foot wharf and five 169-foot-tall ship-to-shore cranes, is set to open along the Cooper River in early 2021. The three-berth Leatherman terminal will double Port capacity at full build-out with an additional 2.4 million TEUs of capacity.

Upgrades to Wando terminal and the opening of Leatherman terminal will enable S.C. Ports to handle four 14,000-TEU ships at once, as well as handle a 19,000-TEU ship, which is one of the largest ships deployed today.

The ongoing Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is crucial to these infrastructure projects. All dimensions of Charleston Harbor will be improved by deepening and widening the harbor and adjoining rivers, as well as enlarging turning basins.

Deepening of the entrance channel to 54 feet is underway, and deepening of the lower harbor up to Wando Welch Terminal recently started with the awarding of the third contract. Deepening this section of the Wando River to 52 feet and widening the turning basin to 1,650 feet will greatly increase capabilities at the Wando terminal.

Future project work involves deepening the Cooper River to 52 feet up to the Leatherman terminal.

The $550 million Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is fully funded after receiving $350 million from the S.C. Legislature, $108 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and $138 million set aside in President Donald Trump’s budget.

By 2021, Charleston will have the deepest harbor on the East Coast at 52 feet. This will ensure large container ships can access SCPA terminals at any time, regardless of the tides.