SC ports achieves second consecutive month of 18 percent volume growth; port education program builds understanding, awareness of maritime industry
February marked the second consecutive month of 18 percent container growth at the SC Ports Authority, bringing fiscal year container volumes totals to 1.23 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs.
Last month Charleston handled 152,925 TEUs, a significant increase from 129,747 handled during the same month last year. Since the fiscal year began in July, the port's TEU volume is 14.3 percent higher than the same period last fiscal year.
As measured in pier containers, SCPA moved 86,258 boxes in February. SCPA has handled 700,630 boxes fiscal year to date and plans to surpass the 1 million container mark by the end of the period.
"February container volumes were particularly strong for a short month," said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. "Our import gains are reflective of a strengthening U.S. economy and population growth across the Southeast, while manufacturing in our state and region bolsters our export business. Loaded box volumes last month were nearly completely balanced between imports and exports."
The SCPA's non-containerized business segments remain on-track to meet fiscal year financial plans. Georgetown handled 15,520 tons last month and is 5 percent ahead of plan fiscal year to date. In Charleston, breakbulk tonnage levels are on plan, with 58,685 tons handled in February.
Inland port volumes also saw gains in February, with 4,631 rail moves completed during the month. Fiscal year to date, the facility has handled 35,126 rail moves and is nearly 50 percent ahead of plan.
The board approved a dredging contract for routine berth maintenance at the North Charleston Terminal (NCT). Dredging at NCT is typically performed every 12 to 15 months to preserve 50 feet of depth at mean low water necessary for large container ships. The board also approved a design modification to the two super-post-Panamax cranes on order for the Wando Welch Terminal.
The SCPA reported successful fiscal year to date outcomes from its educational program, reaching more than 1,200 students from across SC ranging from elementary through college age. Through port tours, school visits and career fairs, the SCPA education program was designed to build understanding of port activities and international commerce while encouraging interest in career opportunities within the maritime industry.
In 2013 the port expanded its outreach with a harbor deepening exercise for middle school students that incorporates state math and science education standards. The team-based activity places students in the roles of engineer, accountant, environmental scientist and project manager to determine the recommended harbor depth for Charleston Harbor.