It’s almost a broken record hearing about the S.C. Ports Authority’s broken records, but the numbers are positive signs of continued recovery coming out of the pandemic.
Following an all-time cargo record in March, the SPA reported the strongest April ever for containers handled, with a 27.8% increase at the Port of Charleston compared to this time last year, the port said in a news release.
Throughout April, the SCPA moved 225,137 TEUs — an industry measurement equivalent to a 20-foot container — across Wando Welch, North Charleston and Hugh K. Leatherman terminals. That amounts to nearly 2.09 million TEUs, or a 4.4% increase, year-over-year, from July 1 through April 30.
“Companies needing to quickly import and export goods benefit from the available capacity at SC Ports,” S.C. Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “We have invested significantly in our infrastructure, including enhancing Wando Welch Terminal and opening Leatherman Terminal, to ensure Charleston can handle the biggest ships and growing cargo volumes coming to the East Coast.”
Vehicles saw a particularly remarkable month with a 143.1% increase from April 2020 — a month that severely impacted the world’s automotive manufacturing industry with global shutdowns. The SCPA reported 21,966 vehicles rolled across the docks at Columbus Street Terminal last month, for a total of 209,598 vehicles or a 14.5% increase, this fiscal year.
As a whole, the port has handled 1.6 million pier containers, which accounts for cargo boxes of any size, since July 1, up 2.78%. In April, that boiled down to 125,959 pier containers — up 24.9% from the year prior.
Loaded exports also rose nearly 30% in April, and the SCPA credits much of that to South Carolina’s strong manufacturing and automotive sector.
As the country also continues to witness a surge of imports, especially home goods, furniture, exercise equipment and refrigerated foods, the SPA saw loaded imports increase nearly 27% in April.
S.C. Ports reported consistent growth with its two rail-served inland ports following a 62.5% year-over-year increase in April. Inland Port Greer and Inland Port Dillon performed a combined 16,244 rail moves for the month, which totals 163,270 for the year.
Inland Port Greer handled 13,719 of those rail moves, up 85.2% from this time last year.
The S.C. Ports Authority is working to expand the inland port to increase cargo and rail capacity.
“Our entire maritime and motor carrier community kept freight moving during the past year. We owe them much gratitude for keeping our shelves stocked and businesses running during the pandemic,” Newsome said. “As the global supply chain continues to feel strained, it is evident that S.C. Ports invested in the right infrastructure at the right time. We have the capacity, big-ship capabilities and deep harbor today to handle cargo influxes.”