The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced $49 million for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project in the Fiscal Year 18 Work Plan, critical funds that will be coupled with financial support from the State of South Carolina to further the progress of deepening the Charleston Harbor to 52 feet.
"This funding is great news for continued construction activities and timely awarding of dredging contracts for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project," said Bill Stern, SCPA Board Chair. "The Port is appreciative to the Trump Administration, Governor McMaster, Senators Graham and Scott, and the entire South Carolina congressional delegation for their coordinated efforts to ensure the highest possible funding for the project was included in the Corps Work Plan."
Construction to deepen the Charleston Harbor Entrance Channel began in February following the awarding of the first two dredging contracts, totaling $260 million, by USACE.
"The deepening of the Charleston Harbor is one of the most important strategic priorities for the State of South Carolina," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "The Southeast needs a 52-foot harbor to efficiently handle the large container ships now calling the East Coast. There are four other harbors on our coast at 50 feet of depth, and such large container ships call a network of ports. The deepening of major U.S. ports is a significant element of the overall investment thesis across the port industry nationwide, and by 2021 SCPA and the State will have invested over $2 billion in port infrastructure to support the growth of both population and manufacturing in South Carolina and the Southeast region."
The USACE Work Plan funding, in combination with a $50 million loan from the State, will enable the Charleston Harbor to be deepened to the Wando Welch Terminal by early 2021 in a record construction period of only 40 months. The completion of harbor deepening projects is essential, with multiple 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent container unit (TEU) ship slings calling U.S. East Coast ports and the strong likelihood that an 18,000 TEU ship service will be deployed by 2019. The ability to fill these large container vessels with heavy export cargo in the Southeast is critical and requires harbors of 50 feet or more in draft to remove significant navigation restrictions. Upon completion of Charleston's deepening, the Inner Harbor will offer 52 feet of depth with a 54-feet deep Entrance Channel.