The Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal is taking shape along the Cooper River as South Carolina (SC) Ports Authority prepares to open the new container terminal in March 2021.
SC Ports celebrated on 31 January the structural completion of the terminal’s new operations building. More than 300 people — contractors, port employees, elected leaders and community members — cheered as a steel beam and tree were placed atop the steel structure as part of a traditional “topping out” ceremony.
The 34,853-square-foot building, built by Samet Corp., will have offices, meeting spaces, crane operator rest and training areas, and a full-service kitchen, as well as the backup power required to maintain critical infrastructure in the event of a power outage.
Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman Sr., the terminal’s namesake, celebrated the construction milestone of the terminal’s first and largest building and commented:
“SC Ports has seen tremendous growth over the past decade as bigger cargo ships continually call on the Port of Charleston. The Port has long been the economic engine of South Carolina, and with the new terminal, this will only increase. The container terminal will expand operations and support high-paying jobs for our citizens. It gives me great pride to see the construction progress, and I look forward to the positive impact its completion will have on our state for generations to come.”
The Leatherman Terminal sits on the former Navy Base in North Charleston. The 134-acre Phase One will have a 1,400-foot wharf that can accommodate up to 19,000-TEU vessels.
The US$1 billion investment comes at a time when SC Ports needs additional capacity to handle the larger ships calling on the Port of Charleston, according to the release. The first phase of the Leatherman Terminal provides 700,000 TEU of additional capacity.
SC Ports Authority says the facility will boast both electric and hybrid equipment that will ensure efficient operations while reducing emissions.
Phase One will house the tallest ship-to-shore (STS) cranes at the Port of Charleston, five cranes with 169-foot lift height, as well as 25 new hybrid rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, all set to arrive this year.
The Leatherman Terminal will be built in phases over the next decade, based on market demand. At full build-out, the 286-acre terminal will have three berths capable of handling 2.4 million TEU, doubling the port’s existing throughput capacity.
A dedicated Port Access Road will connect the Leatherman Terminal to Interstate 26, and a private drayage road will connect the terminal to the future Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, a rail-served cargo yard about a mile away. Truck drivers will use only these routes to ferry containers to and from the terminal.
The site development and terminal construction is a massive project undertaken by S.C. Ports’ engineering team and numerous contractors, including HDR Inc. for construction management and inspection; Banks Construction Co. for site development; Samet Corporation for construction of buildings and canopies; Cape Romain/McLean A Joint Venture for wharf construction; and Cape Romain Contractors Inc. for bridge construction.