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South Carolina Ports hits construction milestone at Leatherman terminal

South Carolina Ports hits construction milestone at Leatherman terminal
At full completion the terminal will have a 2.4m teu annual capacity

South Carolina (SC) Ports has celebrated the structural completion of the operations building at Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal, a new container terminal along the Cooper River, which will open in March 2021.

The US$1bn investment comes at a time when SC Ports needs additional capacity to handle the larger ships calling the Port of Charleston, where container volumes have doubled over the past decade.

A steel beam and tree were placed atop the steel structure as part of a traditional “topping out” ceremony.

The 34,853 sq foot building, built by Samet Corp., will have offices, meeting spaces, crane operator rest and training areas, and a full-service kitchen, as well as the backup power required to maintain critical infrastructure in the event of a power outage.

Senator Hugh K. Leatherman Sr., the terminal’s namesake, said: “SC Ports has seen tremendous growth over the past decade as bigger cargo ships continually call on the Port of Charleston.

“The port has long been the economic engine of South Carolina, and with the new terminal, this will only increase. The container terminal will expand operations and support high-paying jobs for our citizens.”

The facility sits on the former Navy Base in North Charleston. The 134-acre Phase One will have a 1,400 ft wharf that can accommodate up to 19,000 teu vessels.

The first phase of the terminal provides 700,000 teu of additional capacity, as more shippers seek access to the growing Southeast market.

SC Ports Authority president and CEO Jim Newsome said: “In a little more than a year, ships will call on the country’s newest container terminal.

“The opening of the Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in March 2021 will greatly enhance our cargo capacity and big-ship capability. Our strategic investments and years of hard work are coming to fruition at just the right time as more ships call on the East Coast. This new terminal propels SC Ports into the future.”

The facility will boast both electric and hybrid equipment in an effort to ensure efficient operations while reducing emissions.

Phase One will house the tallest ship-to-shore (STS) cranes at the Port of Charleston with five cranes with 169 ft lift height, as well as 25 new hybrid rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes, all set to arrive this year.

The terminal will be built in phases over the next decade, based on market demand. At full build-out, the 286-acre terminal will have three berths capable of handling 2.4m teu of cargo, doubling the port’s existing throughput capacity.

A dedicated port access road will connect the terminal to Interstate 26, and a private drayage road will connect the terminal to the future Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, a rail-served cargo yard about a mile away.

Truck drivers will use only these routes to ferry containers to and from the terminal.