CHARLESTON, SC - June 11, 2018 - Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced $49 million for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project in the Fiscal Year 18 Work Plan, critical funds that will be coupled with financial support from the State of South Carolina to further the progress of deepening the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet.
"This funding is great news for continued construction activities and timely awarding of dredging contracts for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project," said Bill Stern, SCPA Board Chair. "The Port is appreciative to the Trump Administration, Governor McMaster, Senators Graham and Scott and the entire South Carolina congressional delegation for their coordinated efforts to ensure the highest possible funding for the project was included in the Corps Work Plan."
Construction to deepen the Charleston Harbor Entrance Channel began in February following the awarding of the first two dredging contracts, totaling $260 million, by USACE.
"The deepening of the Charleston Harbor is one of the most important strategic priorities for the State of South Carolina," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "The Southeast needs a 52-foot harbor to efficiently handle the large container ships now calling the East Coast. There are four other harbors on our coast at 50 feet of depth, and such large container ships call a network of ports. The deepening of major U.S. ports is a significant element of the overall investment thesis across the port industry nationwide, and by 2021 SCPA and the State will have invested over $2 billion in port infrastructure to support the growth of both population and manufacturing in South Carolina and the Southeast region."
The USACE Work Plan funding, in combination with a $50 million loan from the State, will enable the Charleston Harbor to be deepened to the Wando Welch Terminal by early 2021 in a record construction period of only 40 months. The completion of harbor deepening projects is essential, with multiple 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent container unit (TEU) ship slings calling U.S. East Coast ports today and the strong likelihood that an 18,000 TEU ship service will be deployed by 2019. The ability to fill these large container vessels with heavy export cargo in the Southeast is critical and requires harbors of 50 feet or more in draft to remove significant navigation restrictions. Upon completion of Charleston's deepening, the Inner Harbor will offer 52 feet of depth with a 54-feet deep Entrance Channel.
The project was designated a "New Construction Start" in the USACE Work Plan last year and received Congressional Authorization in December 2016.
Comments from South Carolina Leaders
"The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is critical to ensuring South Carolina remains a world class port supporting world class companies. Today's news, along with the significant investment by the State of South Carolina, ensures the project stays on track. I thank Senator Graham and the entire South Carolina Congressional Delegation for their continued advocacy for this important project." - Senator Hugh Leatherman, S.C. Senate President Pro Tempore
"Our state has supported this project since day one because we see the value of a competitive port to our citizens and businesses. We appreciate the efforts by the South Carolina Congressional Delegation and are encouraged to see the federal government continue to recognize this critical project." - S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas
"Today's funding news is tremendous for the entire state of South Carolina and is the result of broad support at all levels of government. Congratulations to our Congressional delegation for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Port and the entire state. South Carolinians will see the positive impact of our port project for decades to come." - Senator Larry Grooms, Chairman of the S.C. Review and Oversight Commission on the SPA
"This is great news for the Upstate, as well as the entire state. With 50% of port users located in the upstate, the continued progress on the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project will be felt in our region for years to come. We have made significant investments, coupled with an additional loan in this year's pending state budget, and it's encouraging to see the federal government step up." - S.C. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White
About South Carolina Ports Authority
South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 187,200 statewide jobs and generate nearly $53 billion annual economic activity. SCPA is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet, and the Port is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. For more information on SCPA, please visit www.scspa.com.