South Carolina (SC) Ports recorded its best year in its history, handling more than two million TEUs in 2019 despite all the risks last year, including the trade tension between the US and China which has been blamed for the general slowdown in trade volumes. 


It said in a statement that it handled 2.44 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) a 5% increase year-over-year.


Self Photos / Files - South Carolina


In a statement, S.C. Ports said it handled 1.38 million pier containers — as measured by the total number of boxes handled — in 2019 at the Wando Welch and North Charleston terminals.


Of those, more than 1.1 million containers went across the docks of the Wando terminal whilst major renovations were ongoing to enhance the terminal’s big-ship readiness capabilities.


Volumes were strong across business segments in 2019, despite ongoing global trade issues, according to Jim Newsome, S.C. Ports Authority president and CEO.


“We enter 2020 with a great decade of growth behind us, during which we doubled our volumes, tripled our asset base and added more than 200 people to our team,” Newsome said. “Our cargo growth and efficient terminals are only made possible through the dedication of our team and the broader maritime community,” he said.


Breakbulk cargo grew in 2019 with 725,828 pier tons handled, up nearly 10% from a year ago. The Port also handled 225,191 vehicles, up 4%, and 262,776 cruise passengers, up 24%, in 2019.


The port operator also noted that Inland Port Greer and Inland Port Dillon saw record-breaking activity in 2019 with 190,539 combined rail moves, up 41% year-over-year.


December volumes up 


For December alone, S.C. Ports handled 187,882 TEUs at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals in December. This brings the total TEUs handled thus far in the fiscal year 2020, from July through December, to 1.23 million, up nearly 4% year-over-year.


The Port moved 105,783 pier containers in December for a total of 694,656 pier containers thus far in the fiscal year 2020.


Breakbulk and vehicle cargo have seen strong year-over-year growth. The Port handled 45,816 pier tons in December for a total of 356,179 pier tons in the fiscal year 2020, up 39% from the same period a year ago.


“Our ongoing growth supports our long-planned, vital infrastructure projects, which are close to becoming a reality,” Newsome said. 


In 2021, he added that S.C. Ports will open the first phase of the Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal and achieve a 52-foot depth in Charleston Harbor.


“Our enhanced capacity and big-ship capabilities make the Port of Charleston ideal for cargo owners wanting access to both Southeast consumers and global markets,” he added.


South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer.