2024 is too late, according to maritime leaders, port, business and political officials, as the industry’s big ship trend is changing the competitive landscape for the nation’s ports. The opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2014 will be a game-changer for the shipping industry, opening the US East Coast to more big ships and increased expanded direct trade. In fact, nearly 80% of the ships on order today are post-Panamax sized.
“Charleston is our nation’s best chance to deliver a next-generation harbour 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.”
Charleston’s need for a 50 foot deep (15.24 m) shipping channel is also key to its successful competition with the Port of Savannah, which is nearing the end of its 15-year effort to plan for the deepening of the Savannah River.