SC Ports Logo

176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
Telephone: 843-577-8121 • Fax: 843-577-8127 • e-mail:


Charleston Harbor Deepening Garners Support

Charleston, SC - With Charleston’s next harbor deepening project underway, business and maritime leaders today joined with elected officials to support both the reduced transportation costs and the job benefits of a true post-Panamax harbor in the U.S. southeast.

Meeting at the Charleston Maritime Center on Charleston Harbor, a diverse group of leaders rallied behind Charleston’s harbor project, calling it essential to the state and national economy and job creation across the region.

“Charleston is our nation’s best chance to deliver a next-generation harbor for the Southeast region,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA). “This deepening project will drive economic investment and jobs in our state while customers across the entire region will benefit from lower supply chain costs. And, importantly, this is the nation’s best buy for a South Atlantic deepening project.”

More than 20,000 companies in several dozen states use the Port of Charleston to access global markets, shipping cargo valued at $50 billion a year through the Charleston Customs District.

Charleston’s project will have an estimated $106 million in annual net benefits for a $140-million federal investment. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described that based on preliminary studies at other nearby harbors, “Charleston Harbor would probably be the cheapest South Atlantic harbor to deepen to 50 feet.”

The industry’s big ship trend is changing the competitive landscape for the nation’s ports. The expansion of the Panama Canal - a game-changer for the shipping industry - will open the U.S. East Coast to more big ships and expanded direct trade. In fact, nearly 80 percent of the ships on order today are post-Panamax in size.

Additionally, increasing exports from the Southeast necessitates deep harbors. Exports are typically denser and heavier than import goods.

While Charleston currently has the deepest water in the region, the largest ships call during high tide, when water depths accommodate vessels drafting up to 48 feet of water. Having unrestricted access for these big ships will attract the world’s leading ocean carriers and inspire new investment from companies looking to efficiently serve trade demand and growing markets.

For its part, the SCPA is investing $1.3 billion over the next decade on landside improvements to its facilities, including a new container terminal at the former Navy Base to handle increased trade demand.

“Harbor deepening is the only missing component,” Newsome stated.

The public is invited to learn more about the project and provide comment at a Public Scoping Meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. The workshop-style meeting will be held in Mark Clark Hall on the campus of The Citadel.

Additional comments from today’s media event today:

“Without [deepening Charleston Harbor] generations of South Carolinians will not achieve the quality of life they would have had otherwise.”
- Sen. Larry Grooms

“The effort to deepen our harbor to post-Panamax depths is the most significant issue for our state’s well-being that I can recall.”
- Sen. Glenn McConnell

“The beginning of this project is an important milestone in the Port of Charleston’s race to become the Southeast’s regional hub in a post-Panamax world.”
- Sen. Chip Campsen

“From where we are standing today you can see the Atlantic Ocean. This is a very wise, cost-effective investment in the economic health of South Carolina.”
- Mayor Joe Riley, City of Charleston

“Two of the most talked about issues in our country are spending and jobs. So it would appear that this project makes perfect sense and is the wise decision for our nation.”
- Ken Riley, President, ILA Local 1422

“The Port has been a key attraction asset and a deciding factor for the majority of companies considering the Charleston market for an expansion or location. In fact, Charleston is the best and perhaps only option for a true post-Panamax port in the Southeastern United States.”
- David Ginn, President & CEO, Charleston Regional Development Alliance

“Companies in all 46 counties of the state do business in this port on a daily basis. This project will reduce the cost of doing business for the thousands of companies in South Carolina that ship internationally.”
- Otis Rawl, President & CEO, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce

“Today, the port and the associated trade and commerce it represents, are THE driver of the economy of our region and our entire state.”
- Ron Jones, Chairman, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
About the South Carolina 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 $50 billion annually while 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.  For more information, visit

For more information:
Byron D. Miller