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176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
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South Carolina Ports Top 1.37 Million TEU, Add New Business

Charleston, SC - Despite a widespread decline in global shipping, in fiscal year 2009 the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) handled 1.37 million 20-foot equivalent container units, secured several new major business accounts and is primed to take advantage of the deepest harbor in the U.S. Southeast.

“The global economic situation has been incredibly tough on port communities across the world, including ours,” said David J. Posek, chairman of the SCSPA. “We should be proud that the people of South Carolina's ports have banded together to better serve our existing customers, while at the same time attracting new business.”

Ocean carriers have idled 10% of the world's shipping fleet amid the recession, but the shuffling and juggling of container services today should play to Charleston's advantages, said the SCSPA's interim president & CEO, John F. Hassell III.

“Fewer, larger ships will handle world trade in the years to come,” said Hassell. “With the deepest shipping channels in the region, Charleston is well positioned for this development, as well as for the expanded Panama Canal in 2014. South Carolina is the place to do business now, and in the future.”

In addition, Hassell noted several accomplishments over the past fiscal year, such as:

Also during the past year, the search for a new president and chief executive officer concluded with the hiring of James I. (Jim) Newsome III as the fifth leader in the SCSPA's history. Mr. Newsome begins on September 1 after a more than 30-year shipping industry career, most recently as president of Hapag-Lloyd (America), Inc., part of the world's fifth-largest ocean shipping company.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the SCSPA handled 1.37 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) at its three container terminals in the Port of Charleston, down 19 percent from 1.69 million TEU in FY2008.

Breakbulk volume in Charleston was down 17 percent, with 549,008 pier tons handled in FY2009 versus 660,096 pier tons in the previous year.

The Port of Georgetown's volume was up 3 percent over last year to 286,254 tons of cargo.  In addition to the new renewable energy project in Georgetown, several additional contracts could bring several million tons of new cargo through the port.

The SCSPA continued to post strong financial results, with an operating margin approaching 19 percent. Operating revenues were off 18 percent to $136.2 million, while operating expenses were flat at $111 million, and earnings decreased by 53 percent to $25.7 million.

About the South Carolina State Ports Authority: 
The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $62 billion annually and receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year.