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Among Piers: South Carolina Ports COO Woman of the Year

Berthing announcements and other good news from ports coast to coast

Two ship-to-shore cranes arrived at the Port of Charleston in late February. (Photo: English Purcell/South Carolina Ports Authority)

Barbara Melvin, the South Carolina Ports Authority’s chief operating officer, has been named the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance’s 2021 Woman of the Year.

Melvin is one of the few female port COOs. She manages such critical infrastructure projects as the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, set to open this month, as well as the deepening of Charleston Harbor to 52 feet. 

“Barbara has held many leadership positions at the port over the past 23 years, which has given her a deep understanding of port operations and the maritime community,” SCPA CEO Jim Newsome said. 

The South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance has named Barbara Melvin its 2021 Woman of the Year. (Photo: SCPA)

Sara Hazzard, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, said Melvin’s “knowledge and support of the manufacturing industry is invaluable. Through her critical work with SC Ports, she supports manufacturers across all industry sectors throughout our state.” 

The South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance is made up of 200 manufacturing companies representing more than 80,000 employees in South Carolina.

“Manufacturing is a critical part of our state’s economy and I am proud that our work at SC Ports supports this industry every day,” Melvin said. “I accept the SCMA Woman of the Year Award on behalf of our SC Ports team and the broader maritime community, and I hope that we will continue to see more women excelling in the manufacturing and logistics industries.”

Melvin and her team welcomed the addition of two massive ship-to-shore cranes at Wando Welch Terminal in late February.

The cranes are part of the SCPA’s strategic investment plan to modernize operations and upgrade infrastructure to handle more cargo and bigger ships at the Port of Charleston.

“As a result of our significant investments in terminal infrastructure, we offer unmatched vessel and cargo fluidity at a time that it is sorely needed in major U.S. ports,” Newsome said in an announcement. 

The new cranes have 155 feet of lift height above the wharf deck and 212 feet of boom outreach, enabling them to service container vessels up to 24 containers wide. 

The cranes arrived in Charleston Feb. 24 aboard the Zhen Hua 27 after a two-month journey from Shanghai-based manufacturer ZPMC. By the end of 2021, Wando Welch Terminal will have 15 cranes with 155 feet of lift height working vessels. 


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and PhilaPort senior leadership participated in the groundbreaking last week for a near-dock warehouse.

“In the plan to grow the Port of Philadelphia as rapidly as possible, this new warehouse is a critical component,” Wolf said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “As a result of our infrastructure improvements, the same large ships that have been calling neighboring ports can now call the Port of Philadelphia. As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to accelerate our throughput and growth.”

The port moved a record-setting 640,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2020 and achieved 7% year-over-year growth.

The PhilaPort Distribution Center will be a $42 million, 201,621-square-foot facility. 

“We will leverage this building to bring new ocean carrier services to Philadelphia and to bring major new beneficial cargo owners to our port,” said PhilaPort Executive Director and CEO Jeff Theobald. “Our proximity to the Lehigh Valley and other major distribution center hubs cannot be overstated. But for some shippers, the need for near-dock warehousing like the PhilaPort Distribution Center is critical.”

Holt Logistics Corp. will be the operator of the distribution center, which will serve as a major adjunct to the container operations at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal. The new warehouse will allow Holt to get containers off the terminal and rapidly unloaded into a state-of-the-art facility. Containers can then be returned directly to the marine terminal or moved to a Pennsylvania factory to be loaded with exports, further expanding opportunities for local and regional commerce, PhilaPort said.

A planned second phase includes a 217,000-square-foot refrigerated building. The port authority also is planning road and rail improvements and a reconfiguring of the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal to allow more container moves.

Port of New York and New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced last month that the Port Authority of New York and Jersey and several port tenants would be among the organizations receiving more than $100 million for clean, equitable transportation projects.

The funds were allocated from New Jersey’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, a legal settlement from the carmaker over emissions cheating claims.

The port said it will use its share of the funds for electrification programs to help achieve the goals of reducing carbon emissions in port operations, improving air quality and reducing the effects of climate change. 

The port authority received funding for the repowering of a mobile harbor crane from diesel-fueled to electric-powered. Several port tenants will be receiving funding for electric port equipment, including one electric straddle carrier at Maher Terminals; two hybrid electric straddle carriers at Port Newark Container Terminal; two electric yard tractors and an electric forklift for Harbor Freight Transportation Corp.; and 18 electric trucks and yard tractors for International Motor Freight.

This was the second allocation from the VW Environmental Mitigation Trust. In February 2019, several port tenants received more than $3.9 million in grants for electric equipment. Those funds contributed to several improvements at Port Newark, including 10 electric yard tractors at Red Hook Terminals, four electric yard tractors for Best Transportation and one electric drayage truck for International Motor Freight.  

The port authority said these ongoing improvements bring it closer to its interim sustainability goal of reducing greenhouse gas by 35% and reaffirm its commitment to an 80% reduction by 2050 across all facilities as part of its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. 

Responders monitor the area around the Golden Ray off the Port of Brunswick for any signs of pollution. (Photo: St. Simons Sound Incident Response)

Port of Brunswick

St. Simons Sound Incident Response began cutting operations to separate the second section of the Golden Ray on Sunday.

The Golden Ray, which was transporting about 4,300 vehicles, ran aground and capsized while departing the Port of Brunswick in Georgia on Sept. 8, 2019. The wreckage has remained in St. Simons Sound since the capsizing. 

The barge Julie B is expected to arrive in St. Simons Sound this week to receive the section once it is separated and lifted. 

Responders said engineers continue to collect data from fixed monitors and hydrographic surveys and confirm the wreck remains stable. 

Crews moved to the second section after a link in the cutting chain failed during work on the seventh section Feb. 26.

Port of Savannah

The Seaboard Marine vessel AS Savanna last Wednesday became the first dedicated container ship to call the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal. Container yard operations opened at Ocean Terminal on Feb. 22.

Both the ports of Brunswick and Savannah are governed by the Georgia Ports Authority.

“We’re happy to welcome Seaboard Marine to inaugurate Ocean Terminal’s expanded container offerings,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a statement. “This service plays an important role in the movement of chilled produce into the U.S. Southeast via Savannah, greatly improving the speed and efficiency of perishable cargo handling.”

The GPA has added 210,000 TEUs of annual capacity through the expanded container operation at Ocean Terminal. The docks were enhanced and a container truck gate was installed directly across from the on-ramp for U.S. Highway 17/Interstate 16. The new container yard includes space for dry and refrigerated boxes, and the GPA has commissioned six rubber-tired gantry cranes to support Ocean Terminal operations. 

With a carrying capacity of 1,713 TEUs, the AS Savanna handled 550 TEUs of import and export cargo while at Ocean Terminal last week. 

The Port of Savannah welcomed the AS Savanna to Ocean Terminal in late February. (Photo: Georgia Ports Authority)

Port of New Orleans

Direct ChassisLink Inc. (DCLI) has completed conversion of its New Orleans chassis fleet to radial tires. This is the first market to be completed in the company’s push to have all of its pool chassis running on radial tires by the end of 2023.

DCLI expects to convert 100% of its chassis in the Gulf Coast ports markets, including Mobile, Alabama, and Houston, to radial tires this year. DCLI said it is investing millions of dollars replacing older, bias-ply tires with radials, which are more durable and better suited for the hot weather truckers encounter in the region. 

Radial tires on chassis also are touted for helping improve port efficiency. 

“Chassis are a critical component of the Port of New Orleans ecosystem and our customers expect quality equipment that will operate efficiently,” said Brandy Christian, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA). “We appreciate the investment made by DCLI in providing port drivers with upgraded chassis equipment and are proud that our market is the first that the company is fully converting to radial tires.”

DCLI is asking for help from New Orleans market truckers to ensure all chassis there have been converted. The company is offering a $100 Amazon gift card for each chassis brought to one of its New Orleans facilities for upgrade.

Also at Port NOLA, New Orleans Terminal recently set a record for the facility for handling the highest container volume from a single vessel, the 5,500-TEU MSC Alicante.

New Orleans Terminal discharged 2,368 containers during the operation, which began at 7 a.m. Feb. 18 and concluded at 5 p.m.

The terminal contains a 3,500-foot berth and 45-foot draft and is supported by six post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes, two manned rubber-tired gantry cranes and 18 top loaders. 

“Mediterranean Shipping Co. has been a valued partner in the Port of New Orleans for many years and we are happy to have set the record with the MSC Alicante,” said Kristopher Calkins, New Orleans Terminal general manager. 

Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles has opened the application process for its 2021-22 community investment grant program.

Each year since 2013, the program has provided up to $1 million in non-taxpayer-funded grants to local nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status. The grants range from less than $5,000 to more than $100,000. Activities and programs considered for grants must promote or support local workforce development, education, the environment or the LA waterfront. Applications are due May 10. 

Applications will be reviewed by a grant committee made up of port, city and community representatives. Recipients will be announced in July. 

Port of Corpus Christi

The Port of Corpus Christi in Texas and the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate to improve global maritime operations.

The ports outlined a number of shared objectives, including developing trade and commercial opportunities, fostering an exchange of information and advancing the development and deployment of innovative technologies specifically related to navigational safety and environmental protection. 

“We are honored to partner with an exemplary port authority that shares our resiliency and commitment to growth by design,” said Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge. “The Port of Rotterdam is recognized globally for its high-quality infrastructure, connectivity and economic development. This alliance and the discourse it will generate will enhance the headway we have made toward safe and sustainable industrial facilitation of navigable commerce and we are excited for the benefits this will bring to our port customers and the communities we serve.”

Since Congress lifted the ban on U.S. crude oil exports to global markets in December 2015, the Port of Corpus Christi has become the nation’s largest crude oil export gateway. While the port continues to reinforce its prowess in the global energy markets, its leadership remains committed to environmental, social and governance policies.

René van der Plas, director of Port Rotterdam International, said, “The Port of Corpus Christi is a leading global energy hub. We share the ambition to be a global leader in applying pioneering innovations and in offering logistical efficiencies and we face the same sustainability challenges. It’s great to start this partnership to explore opportunities that will bring value to our shared customer base.”

South Carolina Ports on brink of ‘truly historic’ 2021

Golden Ray dismantling continues into new year

Georgia Ports ends roller-coaster year on upside

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.