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A shore crane works a ship at the Port of Charleston

Photo: SCPA/English Purcell

Port of Charleston Reduces Backlog and Sets Latest Monthly Cargo Record

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1409
May 11, 2022

The Port of Charleston in South Carolina set yet another monthly cargo record in April while also making “significant progress” with port and berth “fluidity,” i.e. reducing congestion.

South Carolina Ports reported its busiest April on record, marking the 14th consecutive month of cargo records at the Port of Charleston. Strong volumes were driven by retail imports, which shot up 34% in April compared to last year.

Overall, the Port of Charleston handled 264,099 TEUs across its three container terminals—Wando Welch Terminal, North Charleston Terminal and Leatherman Terminal—a 17% jump compared to April 2021.

April also marked an all-time record for pier containers, which account for boxes of any size, with 145,779 units for an 16% increase year-over-year.

Fiscal year 2022 to date (July through April), SC Ports has moved 2.4 million TEUs thus far, up 15% fiscal year-over-year.

Notably, Port of Charleston has made significant progress is reducing the backlog of ships waiting for a berth. AIS ship tracking data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic showed just two containerships waiting in offshore anchorages, down from more than 15 a month ago.

“With ongoing supply chain challenges and record cargo volumes, SC Ports remains focused on deploying responsive, creative solutions to return terminal and berth fluidity to normalcy for our customers,” SC Ports CEO Jim Newsome said. “We are in a strong position as we have proactively invested more than $2 billion into our infrastructure ahead of demand.”

SC Ports said it has been working on “real-time supply chain solutions,” including hiring more than 150 people in operations, providing Sunday gates for motor carriers, prioritizing the shipping lines taking empties out, giving berth priority to vessels taking out more cargo, and leasing new chassis from its “SMART Pool” chassis fleet, which consisted of 2,300 chassis’ owned and operated by SC Ports as of February. SC Ports plans to continue adding equipment to the fleet throughout the year ahead of full launch in 2023.

“Our incredibly dedicated SC Ports team and the entire maritime community has worked tirelessly to handle consistent record cargo volumes,” SC Ports COO Barbara Melvin said. “They have implemented operational changes in real-time to respond to the ongoing supply chain challenges. This has enabled us to make progress on our backlog in an effort to keep our supply chain fluid.”

April vehicle volumes remained steady, with 21,829 units rolling across the docks of the Columbus Street Terminal during the month. SC Port’s two rail-served inland ports in Greer and Dillon handled a combined 14,945 rail moves in April.

Cruise passengers continue to rebound after resuming operations in late December, with 27,369 passengers sailing in April.

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