SC Ports Celebrates Big Ship Call
On the heels of the first construction contract for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project being awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), South Carolina Ports Authority welcomed the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, the biggest ship ever to transit the Panama Canal to call U.S. East Coast ports.
A $47 million construction contract was awarded to initiate dredging work on the entrance channel, which will be deepened to 54 feet. It is the first of two contracts to be let for entrance channel dredging, which will begin later this year. The main shipping channel will be deepened to 52 feet, offering unfettered access to 13,000-14,000 twenty-foot equivalent container unit (TEU) vessels.
“The first dredging contract awarded for harbor deepening is outstanding news for SCPA and the State of South Carolina, and the arrival of the biggest ship ever to call our Port this morning is a timely and visible example of the importance of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “Our harbor will ultimately be the deepest on the East Coast, allowing vessels like the Roosevelt to transit without tidal restriction. Today reaffirms our efforts and investments in terminals and infrastructure to prepare for the big ships being deployed to the East Coast following the Panama Canal expansion and completion of the new Bayonne Bridge.”
The Roosevelt, a 14,414 TEU vessel, arrived in Charleston with only blue shipping containers visible following a celebratory voyage to the Port of New York and New Jersey for the inauguration of the new Bayonne Bridge. SCPA is expected to handle approximately 3,000 container moves, or 5,200 TEUs, on and off the ship at the Wando Welch Terminal. The Roosevelt is deployed on the weekly OCEAN Alliance South Atlantic Express (SAX) service connecting Charleston with Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo and Shanghai via the Panama Canal.
Previously, the largest ship to call Charleston was the 13,208 TEU OOCL France. Currently, 18 of SCPA’s 24 weekly container vessel services are comprised of ships too large to transit the Panama Canal prior to its expansion.
In addition to the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project, the port has been preparing for the deployment of neopanamax vessels to the East Coast with significant upgrades to terminal infrastructure and equipment. A wharf strengthening and modernization project at the Wando Welch Terminal will be completed in the spring of 2018, and the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, the only new permitted container terminal on the East or Gulf Coast, will open in June of 2020.
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