Jim Newsome once would have laughed at the idea of mega-ships hauling 14,000 containers docking at the Port of Charleston on a regular basis.
That was long before the Panama Canal expansion was completed in July 2016.
“I never thought we’d see that,” Newsome, president and CEO of the State Ports Authority, said of the big cargo ships now making their way through the canal to East Coast ports. “There was a time in my career when I would have told you (5,000-container) ships would be the biggest we’d see.”
The canal recently announced another record for cargo, with 442.1 million tons of freight moving through the waterway in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That’s a 9.5 percent increase over the previous year’s total.
The increase was driven primarily by container vessels, although a wide range of ships — including vehicle carriers, chemical tankers and liquified natural gas carriers — contributed to the gains.
“The Panama Canal continues to exceed our expectations, reinforcing every day the importance of the waterway’s expansion and its impact on global maritime trade,” said Jorge Quijano, the canal’s administrator.
Read more on The Post and Courier.