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As ships are getting bigger, they’re requiring deeper harbors. Maritime facilities have been dishing out billions of dollars to accommodate ships that can carry over 14,000 cargo containers at one time. These ships are referred to as New-Panamax and can carry almost double the cargo than previously.
Why is this happening now?
The Panama Canal expansion was completed a year ago and is counting on East Coast sites a lot more than it has in the past. Wando Welch Terminal is seeing one of these new ships roughly every week. They are expecting to be getting two of these ships in per week by the end of the year.
Shipping lines have placed orders for even bigger vessels. 11 of the worlds’ largest container ships were ordered last week by Mediterranean Shipping Co. Another company, CMA CGM, ordered nine of these shipping vessels. Shipping analyst, Alphaliner, said there will be more than 100 of these ships in the next 2 years expected to sail between Asia and Europe. This will free up “smaller” ships to carry cargo to East Coast ports.
What does this mean for Charleston?
The biggest container ship to come through the Port of Charleston held the capacity of 14,855 cargo boxes. The president and CEO of the State Ports Authority said he is confident an 18,000-container vessel could slip under the Ravenel Bridge depending on tide conditions.
“Whether we can handle a 22,000-TEU ship is uncertain, depending on vessel size and a variety of other factors,” said SPA spokeswoman Erin Dhand.
The State Ports Authority isn’t sure if a ship carrying 22,000 could make it into Charleston. However, the Panama Canal is too small for those ships so it would have to travel through the Suez Canal instead.
Behind Texas, Florida, and Georgia, South Carolina comes in at Number 4 for having the best business climate. The survey of 331 U.S. corporate executives was released last week and took into account pro-business environment, location, quality workforce, and relatively low tax structure. 16% of those executives named South Carolina as the best state for business.