SC Ports’ Leatherman Terminal welcomes 15 hybrid cranes - SC Ports Authority
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SC Ports’ Leatherman Terminal welcomes 15 hybrid cranes

December 11, 2020

15 RTG cranes bound for Hugh Leatherman Terminal

With today's arrival of 15 rubber-tired gantry cranes, SC Ports now has 19 of the 25 hybrid RTGs for the Leatherman Terminal. The remaining six RTGs will arrive early next year. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)

CHARLESTON, SC — DEC. 11, 2020 — — South Carolina Ports welcomed today 15 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes to the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal.

The arrival of this new cargo-handling equipment is significant as SC Ports prepares to welcome the first cargo ship to the Leatherman Terminal in March.

“It is always an exciting day when new cranes come through Charleston Harbor,” SC Ports CEO Jim Newsome said. “The Leatherman Terminal’s impressive new equipment will provide reliable service to our customers and environmental benefits to the region.”

The 15 hybrid rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes arrived in North Charleston, S.C., on the Zhen Hua 15. This is a record-setting shipment for Shanghai-based manufacturer ZPMC — it marks the most rubber-tired gantry cranes loaded by ZPMC onto one vessel bound for the United States.

The 15 cranes will join four RTGs that arrived last month, and an additional six RTGs will arrive early next year — making a total of 25 hybrid RTGs that will service the Leatherman Terminal container yard.

SC Ports will also receive eight empty container handlers this month; they are produced by Finland-based Kalmar for use in the Leatherman Terminal container yard.

SC Ports recently welcomed five ship-to-shore cranes from ZPMC to the Leatherman Terminal’s new 1,400-foot berth. The new ship-to-shore cranes have 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck and an outreach of 228 feet, enabling them to work the biggest container ships calling the East Coast.

“With each equipment arrival, we take a step closer to realizing the Leatherman Terminal,” SC Ports COO Barbara Melvin said. “Our SC Ports Engineering Department and numerous project partners perform an unbelievable amount of work and coordination on the site every day to make our March opening possible.”

The RTG cranes were fabricated by ZPMC and then shipped across the Pacific Ocean and through the Panama Canal before making their final leg of the journey to Charleston. Once the cranes are offloaded onto the Leatherman Terminal, the ZPMC USA team will commission the cranes over the next few months before they are put into service.

Crane operators will then run the RTG cranes within the 47-acre container yard, efficiently moving and stacking cargo boxes on the Leatherman Terminal.

Fifteen hybrid RTG cranes sailed into Charleston today, headed for the Leatherman Terminal. In the distance, ship-to-shore cranes work vessels at Wando Welch Terminal. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)

Energy-efficient RTGs

As part of the construction of the container terminal, SC Ports has undertaken one of the largest environmental and community mitigation packages in South Carolina. SC Ports recognizes the importance of maintaining and improving air quality in surrounding communities, as well as minimizing emissions from port operations.

The Leatherman Terminal’s 25 new hybrid RTGs are a big part of SC Ports’ environmental efforts.

The ZPMC-built RTGs will use battery-hybrid technology; a smaller diesel generator charges the batteries and the cranes operate on battery power.

The new RTGs run 100% on electric battery power, meaning diesel only runs when the batteries need to be recharged, which effectively reduces idling time. The batteries, supplied by Corvus Energy, are expected to reduce fuel consumption by around 70% when compared to conventional diesel port cranes.

The cranes will use regenerative braking energy, which is captured and stored as electricity when a container is lowered. The recaptured energy reduces the amount of power required from the generator.

Additionally, a smaller generator — which runs fewer total hours — greatly reduces maintenance costs for the hybrid RTGs and significantly lowers fuel consumption and particulate matter, greenhouse gas, and other air emissions from exhaust.

This significant investment in new equipment demonstrates SC Ports’ commitment in striving to be the greenest port in the Southeast.

Construction progresses at the Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston, S.C., ahead of its March opening. (Photo/SCPA/Walter Lagarenne)

More capacity, capabilities

The Leatherman Terminal’s Phase One will add 700,000 TEUs of annual throughput capacity to the Port of Charleston when it opens in March.

At full build-out, the three-berth terminal will double SC Ports’ current capacity by adding 2.4 million TEUs of throughput capacity.

“The Leatherman Terminal’s 1,400-foot berth, five ship-to-shore cranes and 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes will provide efficient, reliable service to our customers,” Newsome said. “The Leatherman Terminal will have ample capacity and the ability to handle a 19,000-TEU vessel, enabling more cargo to flow in and out of the Southeast.”

The $1 billion Phase One of the Leatherman Terminal complements efforts to modernize Wando Welch Terminal and deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet. These investments will enable SC Ports to handle four 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously in 2021.

About South Carolina Ports Authority

South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion in 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

Press & Contact Information

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