- The South Carolina Port Authority announced it received two super post-Panamax cranes at Charleston last Friday.
- The new cranes, which will provide 155 feet of lift height from the dock, will be located at the Wando Welch Terminal and were ordered last quarter to facilitate the port's work on the increasingly larger vessels arriving after the Panama Canal expansion.
- The Wando Welch Terminal is undergoing a $44 million project to deepen the harbor to 52 feet and strengthen the wharf's infrastructure. Following the expansion, Charleston will be the deepest port in the U.S. East Coast.
The two new cranes are just a piece of the South Carolina Port Authority's plan to develop Charleston into the U.S. East Coast's large vessel receiving hub. The authority is also investing $1.3 billion to construct a new container terminal, modernize its facilities and adopt new technology.
"SCPA's extensive investments ensure the Port will be competitive in the future, continuing to provide $53 billion in annual statewide economic impact," the authority wrote in its press release.
The investments may be necessary to maintain the port authority's regional competitiveness, though, if industry trends hold true.
Recent reports indicate major shipping lines are spurning smaller vessels in favor of large cargo container ships. In consequence, smaller ports are losing business to their deep water counterparts with the infrastructure to receive ships at times weighing 14,000 TEU. Charleston expects to receive its first such vessel later this year.
In addition, a recent Forbes article suggests the Panama Canal expansion project may disrupt all modes of U.S. freight transport, as freight from Asia-Pacific will be able to travel direclty to the East Coast rather than unloading in the west. Supply chain managers may then see import and logistics costs shift as up to 10% of goods may shift points of delivery.
Meanwhile, the port that best innovates could become a major freight hub. In addition to Charleston, the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York is reportedly investing $1.6 billion to deepen its ports.