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:


Corps Funding Advances Charleston Harbor Project

Charleston, SC - Charleston’s already-underway harbor deepening project got another boost today with the release of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Work Plan for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2012. In it the Corps included $2.5 million for the continued work on the Charleston Harbor post-45 foot deepening project.

“This is wonderful news for the 260,000 South Carolinians whose jobs depend on the competitiveness of our port,” said Bill Stern, chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Board. “The nation needs a true 50-foot harbor in the Southeast region to serve the growing needs of trade, including bigger ships and increased demand overseas for U.S. goods. We applaud the Corps for including funds to advance Charleston’s project, which is the nation’s best buy in harbor deepening.”

The $2.5 million included in the Work Plan will continue progress on the Feasibility Study that began last summer. The study is expected to cost around $20 million, which is funded 50/50 by the Federal Government and the local sponsor. The SCPA also has committed to accelerate its half of the study funds as needed to keep the project moving in an expeditious manner.

“Our leaders at the local, state and federal level all stand united in support of this project,” said Stern. “In particular, Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Jim Clyburn have worked tirelessly to ensure that we continue to advance Charleston deepening for the benefit of our state, our region and the entire nation. We are deeply appreciative of their efforts.”

More than 20,000 companies in two dozen states use the Port of Charleston to access global markets. These businesses ship goods worth $50 billion a year through the Charleston Customs District and pay more than $600 million in duties into the General Treasury annually.

Given national manufacturing, distribution, agricultural and export growth, along with the Panama Canal expansion in 2014, the U.S. needs a South Atlantic port able to efficiently handle larger ships calling in greater frequency over the coming years.

Charleston already has the deepest channels in the region and routinely handles the biggest ships calling the U.S. East Coast today. While Charleston can accommodate vessels drawing up to 48 feet by using the tides, further deepening will open the port to expanded trade via the world’s most modern ships under any tidal condition. 

The Corps stated in its Reconnaissance Study in 2010 that Charleston is likely “the cheapest South Atlantic harbor to deepen to 50 feet.” Charleston’s harbor deepening project is estimated to deliver $106 million in net benefits annually for an approximately $140-million federal investment. The total deepening project is estimated at $300 million.

About the South Carolina Ports Authority:
The South Carolina 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