SC Ports Authority celebrates arrival of largest ship at Charleston port

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) is celebrating a milestone.

The biggest ship to ever visit East Coast ports arrived in Charleston on Saturday morning. The COSCO Development. a Hong Kong ship, is docked at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.

President and CEO of the SCPA, Jim Newsome, says they spent the last five to six years preparing for it.

"It's why we're deepening our harbor, it's why we're building a new terminal, buying new cranes, things of that nature is to handle these big ships," Newsome said.

A ship like the COSCO is as long as the Eiffel Tower is high, that's 1,200 feet. The ship is also 158 feet wide. For comparison purposes, a basketball court is 90 feet long.

The ship can hold about 13,000 containers. Charleston longshoreman will move about 3,300 containers on and off the ship, that sets the record for crane moves at the Wando port.

James Pinckney, Jr. is the Vice President of the a local International Longshoreman's branch 1422.

"We're just on the rise and we're so happy about it," Pinckney said. "Creation of jobs jobs jobs and just a lot of capital that's going to be pumped into the state."

Crews started unloading Saturday around 1 p.m. They'll work through the night and finish up around 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.

"These ships are highly fuel efficient, highly environmentally efficient they turn easily," Newsome said.

Newsome says bigger ships mean lower costs of transportation. He says they would rather handle more cargo on fewer bigger ships.

"We're seeing a shift of freight to and from Asia to the East Coast as oppose to the West Coast," Newsome said.

Once the ship leaves Charleston it will head back to Asia and it won't be the last of its size to dock in Charleston. More are expected to arrive over the coming weeks.

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