FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Charleston, SC - Volume through the Port of Charleston reached all-time record levels in fiscal year 2004 on the strength of rising productivity, growing imports and an improving export environment.
The Port of Charleston's total container volume topped 1.72 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in the fiscal year that ended June 30, an increase of 3% from the previous year.
Loaded imports led the growth, rising 7% from fiscal 2003, driven by inbound shipments from Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Loaded container exports also rose, managing a slight 1% increase for the year while expanding 3% in the last six months of the year alone.
Ship and barge traffic at Charleston's public terminals also grew in FY04, rising 5% to 1,830 vessels. Channel work for the Charleston Harbor Deepening & Widening Project was completed earlier this year, providing -45 feet at mean low water in the inner channels and -47 feet in the entrance channel.
Charleston's breakbulk volume was even with the previous year at nearly 614,000 tons. Increases in BMW automobiles, construction equipment and farm machinery offset declining military shipments.
In addition, Charleston dedicated a new breakbulk facility late in the year. Veterans Terminal has four piers and approximately 100 acres of storage on the former Charleston Naval Complex. A contract with a global engineering firm will translate into additional business over the coming 12 to 18 months.
Due to closure of the Georgetown Steel mill, breakbulk volume in the Port of Georgetown declined 35% to 989,000 tons. But a new owner has purchased the mill and has already resumed production, a sign of rebounding port volume in Georgetown.
Meanwhile, breakbulk business in the Port of Port Royal increased 50% to nearly 196,000 tons. The Ports Authority is moving forward with the eventual closure and redevelopment of port property in Port Royal.
Greater efficiencies are providing for much of the growth. Charleston's port-wide crane production, which includes every vessel in every service for the entire year, rose slightly to 37.9 moves per crane per hour in fiscal 2004. By comparison, three of the world's largest port operators recently announced crane production figures between 27 and 32 moves per crane per hour.
In the common user gates and marshalling areas, the new Yard Management System (YMS) has yielded quicker turn times for motor carriers and improved land utilization. For example, monthly volume at North Charleston Terminal has increased more than 67% since YMS was deployed, yet turn times have been slashed nearly in half to less than 24 minutes, all with no increase in gate labor.