Business, Freight News, Sea

SC Ports’ Leatherman Terminal progresses toward March opening

[ October 7, 2020   //   ]

Construction of SC Ports’ Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal is progressing toward a March 2021 opening, marking the country’s first container terminal to open since 2009.

The Leatherman Terminal will add more capacity and big-ship capabilities to South Carolina, further enhancing critical supply chain assets for businesses throughout the Southeast and beyond.

Phase One will add 700,000 TEUs of annual throughput capacity to the Port of Charleston. At full build-out, the three-berth terminal will double S.C. Ports’ current capacity by adding 2.4 million TEUs of throughput capacity.

“Everybody understands how much value this will add to South Carolina. This is a true team effort, and you can see it every day on the site,” said Butch Weber, SC Ports’ Engineering Project Manager. “It is remarkable to see it all coming together.”

The site, situated on the former Navy Base along the Cooper River in North Charleston, S.C., is being transformed into a world-class container terminal.

Following years of planning and an ongoing, complex construction progress, the Leatherman Terminal will be ready to welcome container ships in less than six months.

“This project has been a massive undertaking as it includes every discipline of engineering,” said Lucy Terza, SC Ports’ Engineering Project Manager. “There are so many moving parts working in concert ahead of the opening of Phase One.”

The SC Ports’ engineering team has worked with many contractors on the site, including HDR Inc., Banks Construction Co., Samet Corp., Cape Romain/McLean A Joint Venture and Cape Romain Contractors Inc.

“The teams behind the Leatherman Terminal have deployed innovative engineering and excellent on-site coordination throughout this entire project,” said Walter Lagarenne, SC Ports’ Director of Engineering and Permitting. “From day one, we’ve had amazing collaboration, enabling us to keep this massive project on schedule and on budget.”

Nearly 80% of the dollars spent on construction contracts were awarded to SC-based firms.

“Phase One construction is going to be completed in about 32 months, with the site work and the buildings being finished in about 18 months — quite a feat for a project of this magnitude,” Lagarenne said. “This container terminal is built by South Carolinians, for South Carolinians.”

Construction milestones

A critical component of Phase One — the 1,400-foot wharf — is complete. It is designed to handle up to 19,000-TEU vessels with five of the tallest ship-to-shore cranes on the East Coast.

The cranes — with 169 feet of lift height above the wharf deck and a reach of 228 feet — are making the journey to Charleston now on two vessels. They are scheduled to arrive in late October. Shanghai-based ZPMC fabricated the cranes. ZPMC USA will complete assembly and test the cranes upon arrival.

Twenty-five hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes are also set to arrive later this year on three vessels, including four that will arrive with the ship-to-shore cranes. ZPMC is completing fabrication and testing of the remaining 21 RTG cranes, preparing them to be shipped in mid-October and early November.

The overall site development of the Leatherman Terminal is approximately 75% complete. Construction of the refrigerated container racks, which will enable SC Ports to handle more refrigerated and frozen goods for customers, is 85% complete.

Many of the terminal’s buildings, such as the Terminal Operations Building and the Vessel Operations Building, have taken shape on the site. Work on buildings and canopies is about 75% complete overall, with completion slated for late December or early January.

Construction of the Port Access Road by the S.C. Department of Transportation is progressing as well; this road will provide truck drivers with a direct connection between Interstate 26 and the Leatherman Terminal.

SC Ports is in the final year of a six-year capital improvement plan, a culmination of years of strategic infrastructure planning and $2 billion in investments. The $1 billion Phase One of the Leatherman Terminal complements efforts to modernize Wando Welch Terminal and deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet. These investments will enable SC Ports to handle four 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously in 2021.

“SC Ports has planned and invested to ensure the right infrastructure is coming online at the right time,” SC Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “Tomorrow is here.”