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  July 20th, 2017 | Written by

SC Ports Posts Strong Growth in Fiscal Year 2017

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  • Fiscal year 2017 marked strong growth of SCPA's intermodal volume.
  • Expansion of cargo at Inland Port Greer exceeded FY2017 plans by 11 percent.
  • SCPA continued its growth trend above the US port market average.

South Carolina Ports Authority posted significant growth across multiple business segments in fiscal year 2017, exceeding aggressive financial plans for containerized cargo, breakbulk tonnage, and rail volumes.

SCPA handled 2.14 million twenty-foot equivalent units in FY2017, an increase of 10 percent over the previous year and an all-time high volume for the port.

Over 1.21 million pier containers, or boxes, moved across SCPA docks during the fiscal year, setting a new volume record. Relative to fiscal year volume plans, the port handled nearly 3 percent more containers in FY2017.

In breakbulk cargo, Charleston tonnage exceeded planned volumes by 8.8 percent with 846,952 pier tons handled from July through June. Within the non-containerized cargo segment, SCPA moved 258,455 finished vehicles across the docks of the Columbus Street Terminal in FY2017.

The fiscal year marked strong growth of SCPA’s intermodal volume, and today nearly a quarter of the port’s containerized cargo moves by rail. Charleston’s RapidRail volumes increased 12.1 percent from FY2016 to FY2017, and volumes in this program reached an all-time high in May and June with 25,002 and 22,129 moves handled, respectively.

Expansion of cargo at Inland Port Greer, where rail lifts exceeded FY2017 plans by 11 percent, played a key role in the port’s overall rail growth. The facility finished the fiscal year with a record 121,761 rail lifts.

“Amid uncertainty in the industry due to the consolidation of ocean carriers, SCPA successfully continued our growth trend well above the US port market average,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “Through the expansion of import-export business in our region as well as successful efforts to recruit cargo from the Midwest and Gulf markets, it was a positive fiscal year for us and we expect continued growth into our new year.”

SCPA also demonstrated positive operational metrics in fiscal year 2017. Dockside crane reliability across SCPA’s two container terminals averaged 99.44 percent, marking the ninth straight year of ship-to-shore crane reliability over 99.4 percent. Average hourly gate transactions on weekdays increased nearly 28 percent in the first full fiscal year of the Advanced Gate System at the Wando Welch Terminal with 421 hourly transactions handled on average in FY17 compared to 329 hourly transactions the prior year.

“This improvement in productivity,” noted Newsome, “ultimately allows us to better serve the companies in our state and region that depend on our port to work well and serve their international supply chain needs.”

The SCPA board approved a contract for the construction of four refrigerated container access racks to join four racks of the same design that opened in November at the Wando Terminal. Along with the new six-acre refrigerated container service area that opened in May, the racks enhance the handling of SCPA’s rapidly-growing cold chain business.

The board also approved an engineering design services contract for upcoming projects at Inland Port Greer. The design services include preparation of construction plans for the relocation of the chassis yard off the existing concrete area, which will provide additional space on terminal for container operations. The contract also includes the planning of site activities for future expansion of the terminal’s footprint, to be based upon market demand.