Breakbulk tonnage exceeds plans by 6 percent; Inland Port achieves record rail moves
Container volumes increased 14 percent during SC Ports Authority's (SCPA) 2015 fiscal year, building upon several previous years of above-market growth with strength across all business segments, SCPA announced.
"2015 was a memorable year for SC Ports Authority," said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. "We reached near-record levels of containerized cargo and saw strong volume and good diversification of the breakbulk sector. From an operations perspective, highlights of this year include handling the highest ever month of pier containers in May and Inland Port rail moves in June, all while delivering high reliability and logistics efficiencies for our customers."
SCPA handled 1.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) during the fiscal year that ended June 30, a jump of 231,473 TEUs from the 2014 fiscal year. June volumes provided a strong finish to FY2015 with 169,913 TEUs moved during the month.
Pier containers, or box volume, also climbed 14 percent in FY2015 with 138,221 more boxes handled compared to FY2014. SCPA moved 96,916 boxes in June, pushing total fiscal year volume to 1.1 million containers.
According to the port authority, strong fundamentals played a key role in the above-market growth of SCPA's containerized cargo segment. Amidst progress of the Panama Canal expansion and the Bayonne Bridge raising, big ships have transitioned to East Coast trade routes, and SCPA currently receives 11 post-Panamax vessel calls each week. Manufacturing in the Southeast remains strong, and SCPA provides the deep water required to handle ships fully-loaded with heavy exports. The booming automotive sector in the Southeast also supported both import and export volume gains.
Successful recruitment of discretionary cargo played a key role in SCPA's above-market growth as well. A competitive, broad-based rail market with ample capacity has made SCPA the port of choice for cargo produced beyond the Southeast region, including plastics from the U.S. Gulf and agricultural products from
the Midwest. Volume gains of agricultural exports were also driven by local industries such as S.C.-grown soybeans, whose export volume doubled during the last fiscal year.
"Fiscal year 2015 was marked by a number of exciting economic development announcements representing future volume opportunities for SCPA, including Daimler
, Kent Bicycle, Volvo, and most recently, Dollar Tree," Newsome said. "The port's ability to serve these companies' supply chains played a key role in their decision to locate or expand in SC. Our strategic initiative to grow our cargo base is paying off."
In the noncontainerized cargo segment, breakbulk tonnage exceeded fiscal year planned volumes by 6 percent with 1.4 million pier tons handled during the year. Georgetown moved 548,933 tons during the period, while Charleston handled 871,974 tons. Roll-on/roll-off cargo within the breakbulk sector grew significantly, and SCPA achieved the highest finished vehicle volume ever handled at the Columbus Street Terminal. In FY2015, 253,338 vehicles moved across SCPA docks, an increase of 15 percent over the previous record of 219,900 vehicles in FY2008.
Monthly volumes peaked at the Inland Port in June, with 6,736 rail moves handled during the month. The terminal's first full fiscal year of operations concluded with 58,407 rail moves, which surpasses initial annual volumes projected five years into terminal operations.
In the fiscal year ahead, SCPA expects to continue to grow above the U.S. port market average and focus on increasing revenues to fund its capital projects, including the construction of the Navy Base container terminal by the end of the decade. FY2016 will also be a significant year for deepening the Charleston Harbor
to 52 feet, with the Chief's Report expected in September while the Preconstruction Engineering and Design phase is ongoing, followed by construction.