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  • 2022 December 7 12:13

    Charleston Harbor becomes the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet

    At 52 feet, the biggest ships calling the East Coast can access South Carolina Ports’ terminals any time, any tide. This depth makes SC Ports more competitive, helping to attract new ship services, first-in-calls and more cargo to South Carolina, according to the South Carolina Ports's release.

    South Carolina Ports and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District partnered on the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project. The roughly $580 million infrastructure project was fully funded by state and federal dollars.

    Deepening work began in 2018, thanks to $300 million the state set aside in 2012, followed by several infusions of federal funding. In 2019, Congress appropriated $138 million for the project, funding it to completion.

    The Army Corps awarded five dredging contracts — three to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Corp., one to Norfolk Dredging Co. and one to Marinex Construction Inc. — and the work was completed in four years.

    Deepening began in the entrance channel and continued through the harbor up to SC Ports’ three container terminals.

    The entrance channel was deepened to 54 feet to seamlessly handle vessels coming and going to SC Ports. A 52-foot depth was achieved in Charleston Harbor up to both Wando Welch Terminal and Leatherman Terminal, and a 48-foot depth was achieved between Leatherman Terminal and North Charleston Terminal.

    Turning basins were also widened in front of Wando Welch Terminal and Leatherman Terminal, enabling ships to easily pass one another and turn around without restrictions.

    With the deepening project complete, SC Ports can handle the record cargo volumes and mega container ships calling on the Port of Charleston today and in the future.

    South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion in annual economic activity. SC Ports is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet. SC Ports is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility.




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