July 15, 2020

SC Ports remains resilient at start of FY21

CMA CGM Vessel at WWT
S.C. Ports keeps freight moving during the pandemic. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)

CHARLESTON, SC – JULY 15, 2020 – S.C. Ports Authority finished fiscal year 2020 with relatively steady volumes compared to fiscal year 2019 despite impacts from the global pandemic.

The first seven months of the fiscal year — from July through January — were very strong. S.C. Ports was on track to achieve yet another record fiscal year until the pandemic hit, causing global disruption to supply chains and business operations. S.C. Ports remained fully operational throughout these challenging months with the support of a great workforce and dedicated maritime community.

S.C. Ports finished fiscal year 2020, which ended June 30, with 2.32 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) handled at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals, down 2.8% from fiscal year 2019.

S.C. Ports moved 1.32 million pier containers, which measures the total number of boxes handled, in fiscal year 2020. This is down 3.4% from the year prior.

From January to June, S.C. Ports had 58 blanked sailings, meaning a vessel does not arrive during its scheduled time or is rescheduled. S.C. Ports has had 14 additional blank sailings announced for July onward.

The Port of Charleston achieved modest growth for both vehicles and pier tons in fiscal year 2020 compared to fiscal year 2019. The Port handled 640,929 pier tons in fiscal year 2020, up 2.5% from the year prior.

The Port saw 199,825 vehicles roll across the docks of Columbus Street Terminal in fiscal year 2020, an increase of 2.5% from the year prior. Vehicle volumes started to rebound in June after many automotive manufacturing plants resumed normal operations in May.

The Port had 217,673 cruise passengers in fiscal year 2020, which is up 2.2% year-over-year, despite cruise lines pausing their operations since March.

“The pandemic impacted businesses across the board and our volumes reflect that. We hope to see continued recovery as we begin fiscal year 2021,” S.C. Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “We have an incredibly well-run port located in the thriving Southeast market. We plan to continue growing and diversifying our cargo base with retail goods imports and transload exports, such as forest products and agricultural goods.”

Fiscal 2020 performance at S.C. Ports’ two inland ports marks sustained success with regional rail initiatives. Companies benefit from the same-day rail service connection to the Port of Charleston. Inland Port Greer, located along Interstate 85 in Upstate South Carolina, finished the fiscal year with 140,155 rail moves, down 2.1%

Inland Port Dillon, situated along Interstate 95 in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, achieved its highest fiscal year volume on record with 32,453 rail moves, up 9.7%. Inland Port Dillon also achieved its best June yet with 2,696 rail moves last month.

“Our inland ports are an excellent success story for S.C. Ports and South Carolina,” S.C. Ports COO Barbara Melvin said. “The inland ports provide crucial speed-to-market for cargo owners. Inland Port Greer and Inland Port Dillon also extend our reach beyond the waterfront, ensuring we are a port for the entire state.”

S.C. Ports continues to attract new business to the region, such as First Solar building its East Coast distribution hub in Greenville, S.C., and moving cargo through Inland Port Greer and the Port of Charleston. Additionally, Frontier Logistics and A&R Logistics are both making significant progress on building their respective resin export facilities in the Lowcountry, which are slated to open this year.

Amid great economic challenges, S.C. Ports remains focused on growing cargo volumes and bringing new infrastructure online in 2021.

“We have positioned ourselves well for future growth as we prepare to open our state-of-the-art container terminal, the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, in this fiscal year,” Newsome said. “I look to our future with great energy and optimism.”

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 www.scspa.com.