NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – The newly-opened Hugh Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston celebrated a milestone when the first ship came to call at the terminal Friday afternoon.
Yorktown Express docked just after 3 p.m. after arriving from London. Crews will unload the ship Friday evening before it sets sail early Saturday for Florida.
As the ship’s arrival neared, more port workers began to eagerly watch the Cooper River to see if they could spot it.
“Everybody’s really anxious. You’ve got a lot of adrenaline going so we’re really excited to see it come,” Butch Weber, SC Ports’ general manger of projects and construction, said.
For him, it was especially significant since he spent more than a decade on the project.
Excited boaters even watched from nearby as Yorktown Express passed them by.
Phase one of the terminal opened late last month. When the entire project is done, it will double port capacity in the Charleston area, and port officials said it’s coming online at just the right time.
“We’re seeing congestion in ports all across the country, here we are in South Carolina opening a new terminal with a berth and allowing for ships to come here, no congestion, no wait,” said Barbara Melvin, SC Ports’ chief operating officer.
Charleston’s ports set an all-time record last month with nearly 249,000 20-foot equivalent container units. The new terminal plays a key role in the region’s economic growth.
“Any time you can add infrastructure of this size in a state, it’s really important,” Melvin said. “It’s important for the attraction of foreign direct investment for global manufacturing and it’s really important as you’ve seen just of late for the attraction of import distribution centers like we successfully attracted Walmart to Ridgeville.”