Charleston port turning away outbound cargo. Why? It is operating out of actual property. | Enterprise

The Port of Charleston is quickly limiting operations at its foremost container hub this week, citing “house constraints.”

The State Ports Authority issued a buyer advisory Feb. 23 alerting shippers, truckers and others that it will not settle for any loaded overseas-bound cargo shipments at its Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Nice between 5 a.m. and midday on Thursday and Friday.

“All export masses shall be turned away from the gate throughout these hours,” the maritime company mentioned. 

Fast-paced growth moves Charleston port ahead in US top 10 list

Wando Welch will solely settle for empty and refrigerated cargo packing containers throughout that point interval over these two days, the SPA mentioned.

Final week, The Publish and Courier reported {that a} file 30 container ships had been anchored off the South Carolina coast ready for berth areas to grow to be out there on the port. That quantity had declined to 26 container ships on Feb. 24.

SPA chief govt Jim Newsome has mentioned that it may take till the top of March earlier than all the vessels are cleared.

Anchored ship logjam increases off SC coast as Charleston port sees container overload

“Now we have our work lower out for us. It should be important to cut back this backlog,” Newsome informed the authority’s board Feb. 15.

The actual property on the port’s container yards is being stretched to the restrict by provide chain snarls and an enormous surge in imported items fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost 66,000 containers had been sitting on the SPA’s three terminals in January, principally at Wando Welch, or about 25,000 greater than the SPA can effectively deal with.

“We proceed to see unprecedented volumes,” mentioned SPA spokeswoman Kelsi Brewer. “Now we have a file variety of import containers on our terminals awaiting supply, which is the principal explanation for the congestion. With containers dwelling longer on our terminals, this impacts berth productiveness for vessels in addition to the motor provider’s means to ship exports.”

Pete Buttigieg, secretary of the U.S. Division of Transportation, weighed in on the Charleston port’s congestion this week, saying short-term fixes just like the pop-up container yards the Port of Savannah established may assist clear the terminals.

Newsome mentioned the Port of Charleston is hampered by a scarcity of accessible land for such cargo yards in addition to allowing restrictions that make them impractical. He additionally mentioned the port has additionally been hampered by the dearth of rail service on or adjoining to its terminals, one thing Savannah already has. The SPA is constructing a rail yard adjoining to its Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston, however it will not begin operations till 2025.

The SPA just lately issued an “emergency name for truckers” to maneuver cargo from Wando Welch to present offsite rail yards, including railroads serving the port — Norfolk Southern and CSX Corp. — want as many as 3,000 containers transferred to their websites. Rick Todd, president and CEO of the S.C. Trucking Affiliation, mentioned a rising variety of truckers are avoiding the port due to its congestion, choosing different alternatives like becoming a member of fleets for single shippers like Walmart.

“If the SPA, the ocean carriers, brokers, and prospects had been paying higher charges and bettering efficiencies inside and outdoors the gates, they might be in higher form in the present day,” Todd mentioned. “That may have helped to create a extra worthwhile and strong intermodal trucking sector, with extra people wanting driving jobs.”

Gate transactions — the variety of occasions a container is picked up or dropped off — had been down 9.1 % in January in comparison with the earlier month. A part of the reason being it is taking longer for truckers to maneuver by means of the crowded terminals. It now takes a median of about one hour for a driver to attend in a queue to enter one of many terminals, test in on the gate, decide up or drop off a delivery container and exit the property. A yr in the past, it was just below 42 minutes.

Todd mentioned truckers “gained’t undergo inefficiencies when there are many worthwhile and environment friendly alternatives with their in-demand belongings.”

Our twice-weekly publication options all of the enterprise tales shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get forward with us – it is free.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or observe him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott