Container volumes up 7% at the port

By Liz Segrist
Published Feb. 20, 2014

The S.C. State Ports Authority reported container volume rose nearly 7% in January, compared with the same month last year, with 129,562 20-foot equivalent units — a common industry measurement — handled by the Port of Charleston in January.

Breakbulk tons were up about 1.3% at 384,000 for fiscal 2014, the ports authority board said at its Wednesday meeting. Roughly 114,000 passengers came to port, up 7.8%, and 1,064 ships docked during the period ended Jan. 30, remaining relatively flat from last year.

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Pier container volumes, which track the number of boxes moved, were up 4.8% at roughly 532,000 for fiscal 2014 compared with fiscal 2013.

Since 2010, the ports authority has captured nearly half of all container volume growth in the South Atlantic market through the addition of new customers and cargo from discretionary markets, inland-favorable freight and growth of bulk transload operations.

“Container volume in Charleston has grown consistently year over year since fiscal year 2010 ... Through our efforts to deepen the harbor and prepare for big ships to call in greater frequency, we are poised to meet the future growth of the industry and remain a leader in our competitive region,” ports authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement.

The ports authority’s operating revenues were $88.2 million for fiscal 2014 as of Jan. 30, up 11.6% from fiscal 2013. Total expenses were $82.67 million for fiscal 2014, up 15.6% from the year prior. Operating earnings were down 26% at $5.53 million.

During the meeting, the board also approved three terminal maintenance projects in Charleston. The overhead electrical network for refrigerated cargo at North Charleston Terminal will be replaced with an underground service, and the crane container storage area will receive surface upgrades to increase storage capacity. Wharf substructure maintenance repairs for Columbus Street Terminal were also approved.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

(Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story mischaracterized pier container volume. The ports authority reported pier container volume rose nearly 7% in January).

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