Wide, deep channels and big-ship infrastructure will earn South Carolina Ports Authority the desired position as last port of call when the biggest ship ever to call the US East Coast, the COSCO Development, arrives in May.
"SCPA has worked aggressively for years to ensure we can efficiently work 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) vessels and be the last Southeast port of call with no navigational issues," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "Our naturally wide and deepwater harbor, soon to be the deepest on the entire East Coast at 52 feet, can handle vessels the COSCO Development's size loaded heavy with cargo. Coupled with our landside capacity and infrastructure, including new super post-Panamax cranes, we offer our export customers the opportunity to load their goods in Charleston before the vessel departs for its return to Asia. We also offer excellent transit times for import cargo bound for consumer markets across the Southeast. It's ironic to say, but this is a case in which we've worked very hard to be last."
The ship, which measures 1,200 feet long and 158 feet wide, can transport up to 13,092 TEUs. It is deployed on the weekly OCEAN Alliance South Atlantic Express (SAX) service connecting Charleston with Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo and Shanghai via the Panama Canal. The SAX service is comprised of 11 vessels ranging in size from 11,000 to 13,000 TEUs.
Today 18 of SCPA's 24 weekly container vessel services are comprised of ships too large to transit the Panama Canal prior to its expansion.
"The arrival of the COSCO Development at East Coast ports
marks a new era," Newsome said. "Seeing a 13,000 TEU vessel in our harbor is a tangible reflection that our vision and capital investments to be big-ship ready are absolutely critical."
The COSCO Development's visit is the first of many milestones ahead for SCPA. This fall, dredges in the Charleston Harbor will
mark the beginning of the construction phase of the Harbor Deepening Project
. Within the next year, a $44 million project to modernize and strengthen the wharf at SCPA's Wando Welch Terminal will be completed and two new ZPMC super post-Panamax cranes will be delivered from China, complementing the two cranes of this size already in operation.
The ship is currently scheduled to arrive in Charleston on May 13.