The S.C. Ports Authority continued its strong start to the 2020 fiscal year, reporting its best September on record for cargo volumes.
The ports authority handled approximately 195,000 TEUs — an industry measurement equivalent to a 20-foot container — at the Wando Welch and North Charleston container terminals last month, up 12.5% from September 2018. The port handled 638,600 TEUs in the first three months of the fiscal year, up 10% year over year.
Measured by total boxes handled, regardless of size, the port handled 110,025 pier containers in September, up 11.7% from last year.
The ports authority also handled 22,124 vehicles at the Columbus Street Terminal last month, a 30% increase compared with September 2018.
The two inland ports have also seen growth at the start of the fiscal year. Inland Port Greer reported 12,473 rail moves in September, up 40% from a year ago, and Inland Port Dillon, in its second year of operation, reported 2,451 rail moves in September, up nearly 33%.
Ports authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a news release that the port anticipates “a significant number of blank sailings by container carriers later this year,” which will likely impact cargo volumes. A blank sailing means that a carrier is not having service from the point of origin during a particular week, often in an effort to increase demand for future sailings.
Newsome said, however, that the port is focused on growing its business and investing in infrastructure, including the Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston and the deepening of Charleston Harbor, both expected to be completed in 2021.