WASHINGTON: South Carolina’s ports — both by sea and by land — have reported a record year. The state’s Ports Authority released a statement Wednesday saying its various terminals across the state had moved a record 2.14 million containers, or 20-foot equivalent units, in the fiscal year that ended June 30. This figure was 10 percent higher than the previous fiscal year. These strong numbers include operations at the inland port in Greer, where rail lifts reached an all-time high in June: 13,060 of them. The inland port finished fiscal year 2017 with a record 121,761 moves, 33 percent more than the previous year.
Ports spokeswoman Erin Dhand said the record-setting container traffic did not include so-called “roll-in/roll-off” cargo of the wheeled variety — that is, cars. One of the biggest exporters from South Carolina’s ports is BMW, which uses roll-on/roll-off ships to send its cars around the world. Vehicle exports out of the South Carolina ports actually declined in fiscal year 2017 to just over 258,000 vehicles. The year before — a record-setter — nearly 275,000 vehicles passed through South Carolina’s ports. Nearly all of the port authority’s vehicle exports are BMWs. BMW is also a major customer for shipping cargo by container ship, Dhand said. “The growth of that business was tremendous (this year),” Dhand said. BMW officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The state’s ports handled, on average, more than 178,000 containers per month over the past year. The agency was already on pace to have a high-volume year, but a strong June, with 183,237 containers, pushed it over the top.
The previous record of 1.98 million containers was set back in 2006. “We had a very strong fiscal year, reflective of a capable and hard-working SCPA team and entire maritime community,” SC Ports president and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement from the agency. “Such growth enables the port to continue to make the necessary investments in equipment and infrastructure to support the big ships being deployed to the East Coast today.” As measured in pier containers, or boxes handled, the ports authority moved a record 104,010 containers across the docks of its two container terminals in June, according to the agency. The South Carolina Ports Authority operates the deepest ports in the Southeast with seaside facilities in Georgetown and Charleston as well as the inland port in Greer. It handled international commerce valued at more than $74 billion in 2015. For more information, visit www.scspa.com.