‘This is what success looks like’: McMaster celebrates port deepening

Gov. McMaster and Republican leaders at the state and federal levels descended on Mount Pleasant Monday to celebrate the completion of the Port of Charleston.
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 10:22 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2022 at 5:29 PM EST
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Republican leaders at the state and federal levels descended on Mount Pleasant Monday to celebrate the completion of the Port of Charleston’s $600 million deepening project.

State Ports Authority CEO Barbara Melvin called it a truly historical moment in the state.

“Charleston now has the deepest harbor on the U.S. east coast at 52 feet,” she said. “We can handle mega-container ships fully loaded with imports and exports without any tidal restrictions. This depth makes us more competitive. This depth attracts more investment and business to our state. Most importantly, our deepening project will bring economic successes and opportunities to South Carolinians for generations to come.”

The project was funded with local, state and federal dollars.

“This is really what success looks like,” McMaster said. “This is a great moment and as has been said, it took a lot to get here.”

McMaster said such a milestone doesn’t happen without a lot of people with a lot of thought doing a lot of work to make things happen.

“South Carolina is booming,” he said. “There’s not another state doing what we’re doing, and I get to talk to people from around the world that are looking to invest hundreds of millions and billions of dollars, and they want to come to South Carolina.”

U.S. First District Congresswoman Nancy Mace praised the project and McMaster while contrasting the Palmetto State with Congress.

“I learned so much at the federal level and in Congress. I learned it’s a disaster,” she said. “But we get so much done here in the state of South Carolina because as the governor said, we are South Carolina-strong and business is booming.”

Mace said people are moving to South Carolina from all over the country and that migration only increased exponentially during COVID because McMaster “kept the state open the entire time and the port stayed open.”

“It’s great for the supply chain, it’s great for jobs in the Lowcountry and moving products forward with inflation from COVID-19 and all the challenges our nation is facing. This is one solution that we can all be proud of, we worked together on both sides of the aisle to make this dream a reality. This is a culmination of 12 years of hard work at the federal, the state and the local level to do that,” Mace said.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said the Port of Charleston is not just South Carolina’s port, but is America’s port.

“[I think about the fact that] nearly $3 trillion-plus of goods flowing through our port means that the entire nation benefits from this deepening project,” Scott said. “And more importantly, I think about the little kids all over South Carolina who one day can look for a future here at home and make a really good living because we have jobs. We continue to produce more jobs for everyday people who want to take care of their families, and have an amazing life.”

Scott, whose grandfather was a State Ports Authority worker, said he is thankful to be one of the beneficiaries of good leadership in the S.C. Ports Authority.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said as they celebrate the project’s success, they need to remember what failure would have looked like.

“The economy of South Carolina would hit a brick wall, Henry, if we had failed to go to 52 feet,” Graham said. “We’re here to celebrate the most seven consequential feet in the history of South Carolina. We’re here to celebrate building a ditch, the most important ditch, maybe, in South Carolina history.”

Graham said it took longer to deepen the port from 45 to 52 feet than it did to build the Panama Canal.

“And this project was done in record time, which tells you a lot about America,” Graham said. “We have to up our game.”

This latest deepening project started in 2018. Officials say the newly 52-foot deep harbor will allow all container ships, no matter the size or weight, to pass through the harbor regardless of the tide.