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Charleston sees breakbulk surge

August 7 - The Port of Charleston's Union Pier Terminal, located in South Carolina, USA has seen breakbulk cargo tonnage surge driven primarily by increases in steel shipments.

In its April-June 2013 trading period the terminal handled 50,079 tonnes of non-containerised freight - predominantly steel wire rods and coils. The figure was an 85 percent improvement over the previous nine months combined, during which the Union Pier Terminal handled 27,109 tonnes of breakbulk cargo.
Paul McClintock, senior vice president and chief commercial officer for the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), says the boost is a result of the agency's focus on recruiting non-container accounts, and a new monthly breakbulk service launched in the spring.
"We've been aggressive in recruiting breakbulk in an ongoing effort to diversify the port's business," McClintock said. "We're exporting a large amount of steel used in construction. On the import side, we are seeing steel wire rod and coils used to manufacture tyres, which is a large and growing segment in the state," McClintock observed.
South Carolina ranks first in the USA for tyre exporting. With Michelin, Bridgestone and Continental all locating to or expanding in South Carolina, tyre manufacturing is one of the largest industrial sector employers in the state, providing jobs to more than 12,000 people.  
"At Union Pier, we have more than 290,000 square feet of warehouse storage space to handle weather-sensitive cargo, like steel wire rod and coils and paper, as well as large lay-down areas suitable for traditional breakbulk," McClintock added.

Since repositioning the port's major ro-ro accounts to Columbus Street Terminal in March 2011, Union Pier offers greater space for non-containerised accounts. The SCPA has invested nearly USD25 million to convert Columbus Street Terminal from a container facility to a vehicle-handling and multi-use facility.

Earlier this year, Grieg Star Shipping selected Charleston for its monthly service, which calls Union Pier Terminal. Since March 2013, the terminal has handled a total of 14 cargo vessels.

The Port of Charleston's non-container facilities handled 1.12 million tonnes of bulk and breakbulk cargo in fiscal year 2013, a 30 percent jump over FY2012. SCPA forecasts a 10 percent increase in breakbulk and non-containerised cargo at the Port of Charleston during the next 12 months.

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