Cargo volume at South Carolina Ports (SC Ports) continued to recover in October, with container traffic at sea and inland ports leading the way.
SC Ports handled 216,196 TEU at Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in October, down less than 1% year-on-year (YoY). Additionally, it said it has handled 797,108 TEUs so far in fiscal year 2021, which began July 1.
“Our business continues to rebound with better-than-expected volumes in the container and vehicle segments, as well as with a record October at our inland ports,” SC Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said.
“Our ongoing efforts to recruit more cargo to SC Ports will further drive growth.”
SC Ports moved 119,986 pier containers in October, for a total of 443,481 pier containers handled fiscal-year-to-date.
Vehicles remain a strong segment for SC Ports as 20,637 vehicles rolled across the docks of Columbus Street Terminal in October, down less than 2% YoY. Vehicle volumes are up more than 18% this fiscal year, with 93,681 vehicles handled since July.
SC Ports’ two rail-served inland ports had a record October with a combined total of 16,404 rail moves. Inland Port Greer reported 12,935 rail moves, up 9.2% year-over-year, and Inland Port Dillon reported 3,469 rail moves, up nearly 40% YoY.
SC Ports’ efficient operations, big-ship capabilities and inland ports have attracted new business to the port this year. Michelin will use Inland Port Greer to move cargo for its 3-million-square-foot distribution center in the Upstate, and Walmart is preparing to build a 3-million-square-foot distribution center in Dorchester County.
“Retail companies are seeing explosive growth during the pandemic, and this boom presents a great opportunity for SC Ports,” Newsome said.
“We are pros at handling high-demand supply chain needs for the automotive and advanced manufacturing industry, which will translate seamlessly into supporting retail distribution.”
In addition to growing the cargo base, SC Ports is also investing in port infrastructure to handle more cargo and bigger ships. Upgrades to Wando Welch Terminal are ongoing, the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is progressing toward 52 feet, and the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is on track to open in March.
The Leatherman Terminal recently received its first cargo-handling equipment with the arrival of five ship-to-shore cranes with 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck, as well as four hybrid, rubber-tired gantry cranes.
“It is always one of our most exciting times to see major equipment infrastructure arrive in Charleston,” Newsome said. “These tall cranes will be a significant addition to the Charleston skyline and will serve as a reminder for all in the area of the importance of what we do.”