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Among Piers: Cranes land in South Carolina

Berth announcements and other good news from California to Gulf Coast to Florida

Fifteen hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes near the Port of Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo: English Purcell/SCPA)

The arrival of the South Carolina Ports Authority’s 15 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes served as a big sign that the first phase of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is nearing completion.

The RTG cranes arrived in North Charleston on Dec. 11 in a record-setting shipment for Shanghai-based manufacturer ZPMC. It was the most RTG cranes ever loaded by ZPMC onto one vessel bound for the United States.

The 15 cranes join four that arrived last month. Six more are set to arrive early in 2021, bringing the total number of hybrid RTG cranes to 25 to service the Leatherman Terminal container yard when it opens in March. 

Five ship-to-shore cranes have 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck and an outreach of 228 feet, enabling them to work the biggest container ships calling the East Coast.

“The Leatherman Terminal’s 1,400-foot berth, five ship-to-shore cranes and 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes will provide efficient, reliable service to our customers,” South Carolina Ports CEO Jim Newsome said. “The Leatherman Terminal will have ample capacity and the ability to handle a 19,000-TEU vessel, enabling more cargo to flow in and out of the Southeast.”

The new RTGs run 100% on electric battery power, meaning diesel only runs when the batteries need to be recharged, which effectively reduces idling time. The batteries, supplied by Corvus Energy, are expected to reduce fuel consumption by around 70% when compared to conventional diesel port cranes.

South Carolina Ports this month also will receive eight empty container handlers produced by Finland-based Kalmar for use in the Leatherman Terminal container yard.  

Completion of the first phase of the Leatherman Terminal construction will add 700,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of annual throughput capacity to the Port of Charleston. At full build-out, the three-berth terminal will double South Carolina Ports’ current handling capability by adding 2.4 million TEUs of throughput capacity.

Nearly 32,000 pounds of cocaine and marijuana were offloaded at Port Everglades. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Port Everglades

The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter James offloaded more than 23,000 pounds of cocaine and nearly 8,800 pounds of marijuana worth more than $411.3 million Dec. 16 at Port Everglades in Florida.

The Coast Guard said the drugs were interdicted in international waters off the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America.

“The Coast Guard’s strong international relationships with key partners like the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, along with our specialized capabilities and unmatched authorities, allow for a unity of effort to disrupt transnational crime organizations, which threaten America and our partner nations,” the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, played a role in the operations. 

The 418-foot cutter James is homeported in Charleston. 

The new bridge has been illuminated. (Photo: Port of Long Beach)

Port of Long Beach 

The Port of Long Beach in California said the lighting of the new cable-stayed bridge provides “a visual reminder of this vital transportation link’s importance to international trade and regional commerce.” 

Just over two months after the bridge opened to traffic, the energy-saving LED lights were turned on Dec. 14 to illuminate the two 515-foot towers and 80 cables holding the main span portion of the nearly 2-mile-long bridge. The lights will be preprogrammed to mark holidays such as Independence Day and Christmas and special occasions such as the Olympics and Pride Month. 

Due to California’s stay-at-home order from the surge in COVID-19 cases, bridge lights were turned on automatically without an in-person ceremony. A video of the virtual bridge lighting can be seen here.

Port of Corpus Christi 

The Port of Corpus Christi in Texas has become the fourth in North America to join the SEA-LNG coalition but is the first port located on the strategic, energy-rich Gulf of Mexico. 

SEA-LNG is a U.K.-registered nonprofit committed to furthering the use of liquefied natural gas as an environmentally superior maritime fuel.

SEA-LNG Chairman Peter Keller said the Port of Corpus Christi “has been quick to appreciate the importance of LNG into its bunker offering. We’re delighted to welcome this forward-thinking and innovative port into our membership at a time when the maritime sector continues to aggressively work to decarbonize its operations as well as reduce local emissions harmful to human health.”

The Port of Corpus Christi joined SEA-LNG as part of its commitment to environmental stewardship. The port purchases 100% of its power from renewable sources, is upgrading its vehicle fleet to electric and hybrid technology and is creating a technological advancement program to promote innovative solutions for emissions control and decarbonization. 

Other North American members are the ports of Long Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Virginia.

Also this month, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority approved a lease agreement and related pipeline easement for the Bluewater Texas Terminals LLC (BWTX) offshore deepwater port project — a 50/50 joint venture between Texas-based Phillips 66 and Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd. 

The agreement facilitates BWTX’s plans to provide “safe and environmentally friendly infrastructure for the export of responsibly produced U.S. crude oil,” according to the announcement from the port, which said the proposed project calls for up to two single-point mooring buoys located about 21 nautical miles from the entrance to the Corpus Christi ship channel. BWTX also will lease 12 non-waterfront acres for an operations facility on Harbor Island, the port said.

The proposed BWTX-operated offshore deepwater port will have the capability of fully loading very large crude carriers (VLCCs) and other crude oil vessels at production rates of up to 80,000 barrels per hour and throughput capacities of approximately 16 VLCCs per month.

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System reported that “amid a challenging navigation season,” overall tonnage for 2020 through Nov. 30 was down 6.6% from the same period last year. However, the system was able to narrow a 10.2% year-over-year deficit reported in May. 

From the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway on April 1 through Nov. 30, American and Canadian ports handled a total of 32.3 million metric tons, down from 34.5 million metric tons last year.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is a marine highway that extends 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.  

“As the 2020 seaway navigation season heads into its final few weeks, we are encouraged by the amount of activity at our ports. Even though total tonnage is still not at last year’s levels for this time of year, the number of vessels transiting the Great Lakes Seaway System is significant,” said Craig H. Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. 

American ports in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System were busy throughout November, trading with an estimated 40 countries across the world, according to a press release, which said ports such as Cleveland, Detroit and the Illinois International Port District “benefited from bustling international traffic that delivered critical cargos for global industries, like steel slabs, steel coils, timber and machinery.”

Clayton Senior III was one of 18 scholarship recipients.


Local 1408 of the International Longshoremen’s Association recently awarded nearly $30,000 in scholarships to 18 high school seniors and college students in the Jacksonville, Florida, area. ILA 1408 is a labor union representing many of the longshoremen and dockworkers who move cargo at JAXPORT’s terminals.

Chairman Charles Spencer started the fund in 1995 to help other parents after his own struggles to pay for his children’s education. To date, the fund has awarded more than $750,000 in scholarships to over 1,000 high school and college students.

“Many of our recipients are the first in their families to attend college, and it is an honor to be a part of their journey,” Spencer said. “Supporting the educational goals of our young people is even more important now under these current economic circumstances. We are grateful to all of our sponsors for their support as we work together to help these deserving young people succeed in college.”

Scholarship sponsors include JAXPORT, Container Maintenance Corp., SSA Cooper, AFL/CIO International Longshoremen’s Association, Jax Maritime Association and Clerks and Checkers Local 1593.

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.