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Charleston, SC will soon have deepest harbour on US East Coast

THE 15,000-TEU CMA CGM Brazil, the biggest ship ever visit the US east coast, sailed into South Carolina's Charleston Harbour because of its maintained and deepened channels, reports Philadelphia's Construction Equipment Guide

20 October 2020 - 19:00

THE 15,000-TEU CMA CGM Brazil, the biggest ship ever visit the US east coast, sailed into South Carolina's Charleston Harbour because of its maintained and deepened channels, reports Philadelphia's Construction Equipment Guide.

In September, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Charleston District, awarded the final two dredging contracts on its harbour deepening project, which will make Charleston Harbour the deepest on the east coast.



The contract award also coincided with the arrival of the CMA CGM Brazil.



Charleston was the last stop on its east coast rotation, because the harbour's depth permitted full loads before the ship made the return trip back to its home port in Shenzhen.



Located midway along the state's Atlantic coastline, the Charleston Harbour also supports a vital defence mission and is one of the nation's 17 strategic ports for national defence.



Valued at US$597 million, the Charleston Harbour Deepening Project, known as Post 45, takes Charleston's federal entrance channel to 54 feet, the lower harbour to 52 feet and the upper harbour to 48 feet.



'The primary purpose of this project is to address transportation inefficiencies resulting from tide restrictions,' said USACE Lt Col Rachel Honderd, district commander, at the South Carolina Port Authority's (SCPA) press conference welcoming the large containership. 'It's to enable new neopanamax vessels like the CMA CGM Brazil into the Charleston harbour.'



Post 45, which began as a feasibility study in 2010, kicked-off the project's construction phase in early 2018. The four-year, five-contract deepening operation is projected to complete all dredging construction in 2022.



'Taking a project of this scale and impact from a feasibility study to completion in 12 years and within just six years of its federal construction authorisation is a testament to the vision of the port, the cooperation of local leaders and the determination and professionalism of the Charleston District and the Army Corps of Engineers,' said Col Honderd.



The short and long-term economic impacts of this project both locally and for the nation are far-reaching.



'The project has a benefit-to-cost ratio of 6.4,' she said. 'In other words, the project gives $6.40 to the state and national economies for every $1 invested.'



Officially awarded September 9, Contract 4 deepens the portion of lower harbour connecting the Cooper River from the confluence with the Wando River to the SCPA's new Hugh K Leatherman, Sr Terminal on the Cooper River to 52 feet. Contract 4 was awarded for $53 million to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Construction of Oak Brook, Illinois.



Later in the month, the USACE's Charleston District awarded the fifth and final deepening contract, for an estimated $32 million, to Marinex Construction of Charleston. Contract 5 deepens the stretch of upper harbor to 48 feet. from the new terminal to the North Charleston Terminal.



Combined, these two contracts remove nearly 10 million cubic yards of material from the harbour floor.



Beyond the project's projected completion in 2022, the project team will continue to focus on environmental monitoring and mitigation, accounting for and properly mitigating impacts to wetlands, historical resources and hardbottom habitat, said Jeremy Johnson, Post 45's project manager.



The USACE has maintained Charleston's harbour for more than 140 years, dredging it every year since, to ensure the channel is at the required federal project depth.



'As we ring in our district's 150th anniversary in South Carolina next year, we hope to continue the important work of maintaining Charleston's harbour for the next 150 years,' said Col Honderd.


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