SC Ports’ fiscal 2023 ‘a much more typical year’ following cargo boom

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Container volumes at South Carolina Ports slipped by about 10% year over year when comparing fiscal year 2023 with 2022, but they were up by about 1% from 2021, the port authority reported.

Fiscal 2022 volumes were fueled by pandemic spending, which in turn produced an “unprecedented cargo boom,” SC Ports said Tuesday. But fiscal 2023 was “a much more typical year” compared with other years historically.

Volumes handled at the Port of Charleston complex totaled nearly 2.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units and 1.4 million pier containers in 2023, according to the port authority. 

Meanwhile, SC Ports’ rail-served inland ports witnessed “stellar activity” in 2023, with Inland Port Dillon reporting 50% more volume year over year. The facility handled 38,143 rail moves in 2023. Inland Port Greer handled 146,813 rail moves, about 3% lower than 2022. 

Not all yearly volume comparisons were increases. The port complex handled 188,517 vehicles in 2023, a 14% drop compared with fiscal year 2022. But in the last quarter of 2023, SC Ports moved 15,375 vehicles, which is a 20% increase from the prior year. 

“In fiscal year 2023, we efficiently moved cargo while significantly expanding our capabilities for the future,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said in a news release. “We broke ground on a near-port, rail-served cargo yard, further expanded Inland Port Greer and successfully deepened Charleston Harbor to 52 feet. Our strategic investments make us more competitive for the future.”

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SC Ports closed out its 2023 fiscal year with higher volumes: Terminals at the Port of Charleston handled 203,091 TEUs and 112,883 pier containers in June, which is more than 3% higher than June 2022. Retail, advanced manufacturing and automotive and cold storage sectors drove the increase, the port authority said. 

Inland Port Dillon reported 4,048 rail moves in June, a 139% increase year over year, while Inland Port Greer handled 14,997 rail moves, up 24% from a year ago. 

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Editor: Joanna Marsh