In the approximately 15 months since the Panama Canal expansion was completed, the State Ports Authority's bet that billions of dollars in improvements at the Port of Charleston would entice bigger ships, appears to be paying off.
Ships, more than double the size of the ones that regularly visited Charleston before the canal's June 2016 widening, are bringing record numbers of containerized cargo to the State Ports Authority's terminals. Thousands of extra metal boxes crossing those terminals are largely responsible for the 10.6 percent increase in operating revenues the State Ports Authority recorded in the last fiscal year.
We've seen increases both in the number of weekly services inbound through the Panama Canal and in the size of those vessels … We went from four of eight weekly Asia services through the Panama Canal earlier this year to six of nine weekly Asia services transiting the canal today.- State Ports Authority Spokeswoman
Five of those six ships now visiting the port each week would not have fit through the canal's narrower locks. A North Charleston City Councilman, former president of the Port of New Orleans and a maritime industry consultant said the SPA's investment in getting the Port of Charleston ready for over-sized container ships has been "a brilliant marketing strategy" to lure manufacturers and other customers.