Today South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) reported nine percent container volume growth in 2017 with a record-setting 2.2 million twenty-foot equivalent container units handled during the year.
In calendar year-end results presented to the SCPA Board, the Port's total container volume in 2017 surpassed the previous record of 2 million TEUs achieved in 2016. The Port moved 182,884 TEUs last month, an increase of 11.2 percent over December 2016 and the highest December in SCPA history.
"Global container trade growth was the strongest it has been since 2010, mirroring surprising strength in the global economy," said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. "We expect to see continued strength, albeit slightly more modest, into 2018 with growth in the emerging market economies as a key factor in sustaining this positive outlook."
As measured by the total number of boxes handled, SCPA moved 103,756 pier containers in December and a total of 1.2 million pier containers in 2017.
Inland Port Greer handled 7,646 rail moves in December, pushing the facility's volumes to a new calendar year record of 124,817 total rail moves in 2017. Greer experienced 20.4 percent growth over its 2016 volume record of 103,639 rail moves.
In non-containerized cargo, SCPA's Charleston breakbulk facilities handled 75,316 pier tons in December and a total of 783,363 tons during the year. Nearly 235,000 finished vehicles moved across the dock of the Columbus Street Terminal in 2017.
In addition to record-breaking volumes, 2017 was a year marked by the significant advancement of key SCPA projects. Construction of the Leatherman Terminal continued, representing major growth capacity for the Port's container business when Phase One opens in 2020. During the year, SCPA celebrated the groundbreaking of Inland Port Dillon, which will open in April, and a new headquarters building, scheduled to open in December. The Port also made strong progress on the final phase of the Wando Terminal Wharf Strengthening Project, which will be completed this spring in conjunction with the delivery of two new 155' ship-to-shore cranes.
The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to 52 feet achieved several milestones in 2017, having been named one of six "new starts" and receiving $17.5 million in construction funding in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 17 Work Plan. The USACE awarded the first two construction contracts of $47 million and $213 million to deepen the Entrance Channel in preparation for dredging to begin next month. With significant completion expected by the end of 2020, Charleston will offer a wide and deep harbor, enabling SCPA to handle the biggest ships calling the East Coast and support growth of commerce in the state and region well into the future.