CHARLESTON, SC – May 13, 2017 – On the heels of record-breaking container volumes in March and April, South Carolina Ports Authority celebrated another milestone on Saturday, March 13 with the arrival of the biggest container ship ever to call on the US East Coast. 

The COSCO Development heads into Charleston Harbor, the deepest port in the U.S. Southeast and soon to be the deepest on the East Coast.
“The deployment of 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) vessels to East Coast ports marks a new era in the global container shipping industry,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “The importance of our port and state’s investments in terminal and infrastructure improvements, additional capacity for volume growth and a deeper harbor are evident with the arrival of the COSCO Development. It is a truly exciting day to see our new super post-Panamax cranes working a ship of this size, and we are proud to be the last Southeast port of call.

SCPA is expected to move approximately 3,300 containers on and off the COSCO Development, setting a record for crane moves handled by the Port. 

“Our ports are one of the most integral pieces to South Carolina’s economic engine that continues to grow every day, and the COSCO Development’s arrival at the Port of Charleston is a symbol of our state’s competitiveness in the global marketplace,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “We will continue to work with everything we have to make sure our harbor is deepened to 52 feet to further allow big ships to call Charleston, which will take our state to a level of prosperity we have never seen.” 

The COSCO Development, a 1,200-foot-long and 158-foot-wide vessel transporting up to 13,092 TEUs, arrived in Charleston after first stopping in neighboring Georgia at the Port of Savannah, its first call on the East Coast. The ship is deployed on the weekly OCEAN Alliance South Atlantic Express (SAX) service connecting Charleston with Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo and Shanghai via the Panama Canal. Today, 18 of SCPA’s 24 weekly container vessel services are comprised of ships too large to transit the Panama Canal prior to its expansion.

“We have worked hard to ensure the South Carolina Ports Authority remains a competitive, top 10 U.S. container port,” said Senator Larry Grooms, Chairman of the Review and Oversight Commission on the State Ports Authority. “It is exciting to see Charleston as the last port of call for the largest ship ever to visit the East Coast, and there is no doubt that today is the first of many significant milestones ahead for our port system.”

Further supporting the Port’s ability to handle 13,000-14,000 TEU vessels are the Charleston Harbor Deepening project to 52 feet, scheduled to begin this fall; the completion of a wharf strengthening project at the Wando Welch Terminal in conjunction with investments in bigger cranes; and the construction of the Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal.