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South Carolina Ports handles second highest container volume ever in May

South Carolina Ports handled its second highest monthly container volume on record in May following a visit of the largest container ship to ever call on the US East Coast, the port authority said on June 8.

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Total throughput from three container terminals centered around Charleston, South Carolina, in May was 230,870 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), an increase of 36% from the same month last year. The only larger monthly volume in the port's history was the 248,796 TEUs handled in March.

"SC Ports also welcomed the [16,022 TEU capacity] CMA CGM MARCO POLO in May, marking the largest container ship to ever call the East Coast and signifying the importance of our ongoing infrastructure investments," South Carolina Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. "We achieved 52 feet of depth in front of Wando Welch Terminal last month, putting Charleston on track to have the deepest harbor on the East Coast in 2022."

Although comparisons to a year ago when global trade was severely disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak may be stark, South Carolina Ports posted double-digit growth in both import and export volumes in May. Loaded imports were up 46.5% and loaded exports were up 24.3% in May compared to a year ago, the port authority said.

Booming demand for space on container ships headed for the US East Coast has also greatly increased shipping costs. Platts Container Rate 5 – North Asia to East Coast North America – was assessed at an all-time high of $6,800/FEU on June 8, an increase of 147% from the year-ago date.