Strides in efficiency, infrastructure boost volume to all-time high

Riding a wave of increased productivity and a solid financial position, the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) closed its most successful fiscal year by posting record container volume and revenues.

The Port of Charleston handled 1.97 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in FY05, an increase of 14% from the previous year. Total SCSPA breakbulk tonnage also rose 14% to nearly two million tons.

Operating revenues totaled $138 million, up 18% from FY04. All net earnings are reinvested in the SCSPA’s port facilities.

“Upgraded equipment and information systems allowed the Port of Charleston’s employees to meet strong customer demand last year,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president and CEO of the SCSPA. “With an aggressive two-year capital plan, a new bridge, harbor deepening and port expansion, Charleston is preparing for the next wave.”

Highlights from the past year include:

  • To handle near-term growth and improve utilization of existing Charleston terminals, the SCSPA approved a two-year, $159-million capital plan for new container stacking equipment, container cranes and other capacity enhancements.
  • More than $6 million in environmental, engineering and mitigation studies were started for a new 280-acre, three-berth container terminal at the former Charleston Naval Complex. Permits are expected in August 2006 and the project will boost capacity by 1.4 million teus. The first phase is scheduled to open by the end of 2011.
  • The largest cable-stayed bridge in North America was completed in Charleston Harbor, offering higher and wider clearance.
  • The SCSPA announced in January its intention to acquire property for a state port in Jasper County on the Savannah River.
  • The Yard Management System (YMS) was deployed to all Charleston terminals after going online at the Wando Welch Terminal in January. This IT initiative boosted productivity and cut turn times for truckers.
  • The South Carolina General Assembly passed the International Trade Incentive Program, providing job or investment tax incentives to companies that increase their import/export volume through the port.
  • BMW renewed a 10-year contract with the SCSPA and announced that the company expected to increase its import/export volume to 150,000 vehicles over the next 10 years.
  • Several new shipping services began calling Charleston, including the first direct Charleston to Central America service, and additional services to South America and the Middle East.