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South Carolina Ports sets volume record in September

September volumes rose nearly 11% although year-to-date volumes are down nearly 3%

Vessels at the Port of Charleston. (Photo: SCPA/Walter Lagarenne)

September volumes at South Carolina Ports rose nearly 11% year over year and reached a monthly record, as port operations strove to maintain fluidity, port officials said.

SC Ports handled 226,807 twenty-foot equivalent units at Wando Welch Terminal, North Charleston Terminal and Leatherman Terminal at the Port of Charleston, a monthly record for September.

“We have invested in capacity to efficiently handle the cargo flowing into the Southeast port market,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said in a release. “Our modern port infrastructure, along with our skilled team and maritime partners, delivers much-needed fluidity to the East Coast.”

SC Ports also moved 124,963 pier containers in September, a 10% gain year over year. Pier containers account for containers of any size, the port said. Loaded imports, meanwhile, grew 16% from a year ago on consumer demand strength. 

Since the start of SC Ports’ fiscal year on July 1 through the end of September, SC Ports has handled 666,315 TEUs, down 2.7% from the same period in 2021 as imports slowed in July and August and East Coast ports sought to keep operations fluid. SC Ports also handled 367,846 pier containers fiscal year to date, down 3.5% year over year. 

Some of the measures that SC Ports utilized to improve port flows have included providing an express lane for vessels with 1,000 container moves or fewer and prioritizing vessels with balanced imports and exports, SC Ports said. 


Efforts to hire more people, utilize new ship-to-shore cranes, and encourage partners to utilize Sunday gate hours for motor carriers and lease chassis through SC Ports’ chassis pool have also helped move volumes through port terminals.

“Our talented port team and maritime community are proactively responding to supply chain challenges,” Melvin said. “We are boldly investing in our people, operations and infrastructure to keep freight moving for our customers.”

At Inland Port Greer and Inland Port Dillon, SC Ports handled 12,747 rail moves, down 16% from a year ago, although Inland Port Dillon saw a 12% increase year over year upon handling 2,380 rail moves. 

SC Ports also moved 17,112 vehicles at Columbus Street Terminal, down nearly 20% from September 2021. 

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.