March 22 - With increased demand in the South Carolina Ports Authority's non-container business, the SCPA Board has authorised contract negotiations with Charleston Heavy Lift on the construction of a new, barge-mounted heavy lift crane.

The new crane would be used exclusively in the Port of Charleston in handling oversized and overweight project cargo across the docks, and the SCPA said it would contribute up to USD2.5 million to the project for dedicated access over the life of the crane.

So far this year, non-container cargo volume in Charleston is up more than 15 percent over the fiscal year that ended in June., SCPA said, adding that breakbulk volume in Charleston rose 41.9 percent last month over February 2011, while volumes in the Port of Georgetown increased nearly fourfold to 74,083 tonnes. Total breakbulk volume last month at the two ports was more than double the volume handled February of last year.

Charleston Heavy Lift is a local company and HLPFI understands that the new crane is needed because an existing crane owned by Charleston Heavy Lift is set to relocate to Savannah at the end of this year.

Charleston Heavy Lift is a joint venture between J.E. Oswalt and Sons Inc and Stevens Towing Co Inc in which Oswalt brings the ability to execute heavy haul land transport of virtually any size and Stevens' fleet of tugs and barges brings the ability to execute any marine transportation option.