Port of Charleston misses cargo mark as storms, BMW shutdown disrupt shipments – Charleston Post Courier

Posted: Monday, October 02, 2017

The annual one-week shutdown at BMW‘s manufacturing campus in Greer and a series of storms that battered the Caribbean and East Coast led to a smaller-than-expected increase in containerized cargo at the Port of Charleston in July and August.

The State Ports Authority reported 203,746 cargo boxes moved through its terminals during the two-month period. That is a 1.1 percent increase from the same period a year ago, but is 5.7 percent less than the amount of cargo the SPA had projected.

“Fall is a traditionally strong season for the port, and we look for year-over-year volumes to increase in September and October,” Jim Newsome, the SPA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

BMW typically shuts down for one week around the Independence Day holiday, and Newsome said the SPA struggles to accurately predict how that will impact cargo. BMW is one of the port’s largest customers, importing automotive parts and exporting kit cars in containers. The German automaker also leads the nation in exporting finished vehicles.

In addition, several ships that were supposed to call on the port in August delayed their visits due to hurricanes and other weather problems.

“We think September will be a larger month,” Newsome said.

In non-containerized cargo, the SPA handled 45,615 pier tons in August and has moved 88,035 tons of breakbulk cargo so far this fiscal year, which started on July 1.

The SPA’s inland port in Greer handled 12,742 cargo moves in August, the second-highest month in the facility’s history. The inland port is 18 percent ahead of last year’s volumes.

In addition, the SPA’s board of directors last week approved a construction contract for the first phase of a project that’s designed to improve traffic flow at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant. The $3.6 million contract to Patrick Engineering includes the addition of an outbound truck lane, additional outbound security kiosks, an extension of the inbound truck queue lanes and a new parking lot that will serve the terminal’s office building.

Dreamliner data

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, which is assembled at the aerospace giant’s campus in North Charleston, achieved a pair of milestones last week.

First, the Dreamliner family surpassed 1 million passenger flights. It’s the fastest any wide-body program has accomplished that feat, with the 787 hitting the milestone in six years. The fuel-efficient plane made of lightweight composite parts has flown more than 190 million passengers and saved 18 million pounds of fuel since its first delivery in September 2011.

Boeing also delivered its 600th Dreamliner — a 787-8 that British Airways picked up at the West Coast Dreamliner plant in Everett, Wash.

“There wasn’t any announcement or celebration recognizing this milestone, but to deliver 600 airplanes in six years is quite notable for a wide-body aircraft program, and especially so for the 787 which had so much trouble in the early years,” said analyst Uresh Sheth, who compiles production data on his All Things 787 website.

Busy passage

The Panama Canal, which figured prominently in the Port of Charleston’s record cargo growth in fiscal 2017, welcomed its 2,000th Neopanamax container ship since the waterway was expanded in June 2016.

The COSCO Yantian, capable of hauling up to 9,500 cargo boxes, made the landmark voyage from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s part of the large class of container ships that couldn’t fit through the canal prior to its widening. Those ships are now able to visit East Coast ports more easily from their home bases in Asia.

At 54 percent, the container ship segment accounts for more than half of the transits through the expanded canal.


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