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South Carolina Ports continues riding volume wave

Best December follows top November

The South Carolina Ports Authority recorded its best December on record. (Photo: SCPA)

The South Carolina Ports Authority said “impressive volumes” helped it end 2020 with its strongest December on record.

South Carolina Ports handled 209,606 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in December, a 11.6% year-over-year increase.

Loaded imports were up 14.4% year-over-year and loaded exports increased 8.6%, “highlighting a strong balance for ocean carriers and a thriving Southeast market,” the SCPA said in Monday’s announcement.

South Carolina Ports continued riding a volume wave following a November-best figure of 207,066 TEUs moved. 

The SCPA said vehicle volumes were “exceptionally strong” in December, up 29.2% year-over-year to a monthly record of 21,228 vehicles handled. In fiscal year 2021, from July 1 to Dec. 31, South Carolina Ports moved 135,747 vehicles across the docks at the Columbus Street Terminal, a 17.42% hike compared to the same period last year. 

Inland Port Greer, located in upstate South Carolina along Interstate 85, recorded 13,523 rail moves in December, a 26% increase year-over-year, while Inland Port Dillon, located in the Pee Dee region of the state along Interstate 95, had 2,940 rail moves, down 2.9%.

“The pandemic created unprecedented challenges to supply chains around the world,” South Carolina Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said in Monday’s statement. “I am immensely proud of our port employees and all those working in the maritime and logistics community for showing up every day during a pandemic to keep supply chains fluid. Their dedication ensures that food products, medical supplies, manufacturing parts and retail goods are efficiently delivered. We are grateful to them, and we look forward to a brighter 2021.”

The brighter 2021 will include the March opening of the $1 billion first phase of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, which will include a 1,400-foot wharf, five ship-to-shore cranes with 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck, 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes and a 47-acre container yard.

Also set for completion this year is the deepening of Charleston Harbor to 52 feet. Modernization efforts that will become reality at the Wando Welch Terminal in 2021 include the installation of 15 ship-to-shore cranes with 155 feet of lift height above the wharf deck. 

The SCPA said the investments will enable it to handle four 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously as well as a 19,000-TEU container ship, “ensuring the port remains globally competitive for decades to come.”

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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.