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S.C. Ports Authority reports highest month in history > Charleston Business Journal


March came in like a lion for the S.C. Ports Authority, which reported an all-time container handling record.


The Port of Charleston handled 248,796 twenty-foot equivalent units across the Wando Welch and North Charleston terminals — a 34% year-over-year-increase — the SCPA said in a news release.

The previous cargo handling record was 233,110 TEUs, set in August 2019.

Fiscal year-to-date, the SCPA has handled 1.86 million TEUs since July.

“This significant achievement leads up to another historic milestone as we prepare to welcome the first ship to the Leatherman Terminal on Friday,” President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “Our all-time container record reinforces that we are adding more capacity to the Port of Charleston at the right time.”

After nearly four years of construction and another 15 years since permits were filed, the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is ready to receive ships and will add 700,000 TEUs of throughput capacity. The additional 1,400-foot berth to the East Coast port market will allow the SCPA to welcome four 14,000 TEU ships simultaneously.

The new terminal is coming when it’s most needed, Newsome said. Last month, loaded imports were up nearly 50% year-over-year at the Port of Charleston as the growing population and lifestyle shifts continue to drive retail imports.

The port also saw a 31.3% year-over-year increase in pier containers, which account for cargo boxes of any size. The SCPA handled 137,855 throughout the month, and nearly 1.036 million pier containers to date in fiscal year 2021.

Loaded exports were up 8.2% with more than 22,000 vehicles handled at Columbus Street Terminal in March.

Adding to the historic month, Inland Port Greer had the busiest month on record with 16,688 rail moves, up 20.3% from this time last year. Since July, the inland port has handled 119,460 rail moves, which is a 5% increase year-over-year.

Inland Port Dillon saw another 3,000 rail moves, bringing its year-to-date total to 27,549 — up 12.4% year-to-date.

“These impressive volumes highlight our efficient operations and the strength of our entire maritime community, which works as a team to keep the supply chain fluid during a global pandemic and amid unprecedented demand,” Newsome said. “We look forward to offering the same reliable service and additional capacity to our customers as we welcome ships to the Leatherman Terminal. SC Ports is proud to open the first container terminal in the U.S. since 2009 in South Carolina.”


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