The South Carolina Ports Authority’s Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is the first U.S. greenfield containerport facility to open in more than a decade. (Photo credit: Walter Lagrenne, South Carolina Ports Authority)
The South Carolina Ports Authority’s Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is the first U.S. greenfield containerport facility to open in more than a decade. (Photo credit: Walter Lagrenne, South Carolina Ports Authority)

With this year’s opening of the first U.S. greenfield container terminal in more than a decade plus significant modernization of its venerable Wando Welch Terminal, the South Carolina Ports Authority’s Port of Charleston is exceptionally positioned to fluidly move burgeoning volumes on and off megacontainerships.

“As the only port in the country with new terminal capacity, SC Ports has the ability to handle the growing cargo volumes and rising retail imports coming through the Port of Charleston,” James I. “Jim” Newsome III, president and chief executive officer of the South Carolina authority, told AJOT.

In his dozen years at the SC Ports helm, Newsome, a former Hapag-Lloyd (America) Inc. president, has spearheaded delivery of what he termed “just-in-the-nick-of-time infrastructure,” including through an ambitious six-year, $2 billion initiative that augurs to boost the Port of Charleston’s total annual throughput capacity to more than 4.8 million 20-foot-equivalent units.

The Port of Charleston’s increased big-ship-handling capability is coming at a propitious time, amidst a pandemic-spurred increase in U.S. consumer spending and concomitant import boom and heightened distribution hub capacity demand.

“Amid ongoing supply chain challenges, SC Ports’ capacity, berth availability and efficient operations are more important than ever,” Newsome said.

James I. “Jim” Newsome III, president and chief executive officer of the South Carolina Ports Authority, is pleased with expanding infrastructure capabilities to meet supply chain demands.
James I. “Jim” Newsome III, president and chief executive officer of the
South Carolina Ports Authority, is pleased with expanding
infrastructure capabilities to meet supply chain demands.

Operations were launched in March at the first phase of Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, built on a former U.S. Navy base site in North Charleston, where the port permitting process began back in 2003. The initial Leatherman phase is adding 700,000 TEUs of yearly capacity at the Port of Charleston. At full build-out, a three-berth Leatherman facility is to offer 2.4 million TEUs of annual throughput capability.

A similar 2.4 million TEUs of yearly capacity is to be provided by the modernized Wando Welch Terminal, a four-decades-old facility that, in this latest $500 million renovation, is seeing its contingent of ship-to-shore cranes increase to 15 units with 155 feet of lift height, augmented by 65 rubber-tired gantries and a stronger wharf. The last two of those cranes are slated to be operational by early 2022. The Wando Welch Terminal can simultaneously handle as many as four megacontainerships, each with a capacity of 14,000 or more TEUs.

Furthermore, the nearly $600 million Charleston Harbor Deepening Project, funded by state and federal dollars, is on track to…

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