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Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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Charleston Adds First Direct Central America Service

Charleston, SC – A new shipping service beginning in mid-June is Charleston's first direct connection to markets in Central America.

Maersk Sealand's new service, dubbed the South Atlantic Express (SAE), will call the ports of Puerto Cortez, Honduras and Santo Tomas, Guatemala.

The new service will replace two weekly services that connected these gateways exclusively with Florida, and “will ensure a higher integrity of delivery into the South Atlantic U.S.,” Maersk Sealand announced in a client advisory.

It will feature two calls a week in Charleston, minimizing inbound and outbound transit times. Ships will call Charleston northbound from Central America on Friday and return the following Tuesday to load exports, the advisory said.

Historically, Charleston's trade with Central America was handled through transshipment at Freeport or Panama.

Even with no direct service, Charleston's trade with Honduras has more than tripled and business with Guatemala has almost doubled in the last five years. The two countries' combined cargo value through Charleston was over $229 million in 2004.

The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston, Georgetown and Port Royal, handling international commerce valued at $46.5 billion annually.