Thursday, March 4, 2010

Largest ship to visit Charleston docks at Wando Welch

From the Charleston Business Journal
Staff Report
Published Feb. 25, 2010

Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s Golden Gate service made its first call today on the Port of Charleston, linking the Southeast’s deepest seaport with China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

The first vessel to arrive in Charleston as part of the service, the MSC Rita, got here overnight and is working today at the Wando Welch Terminal.

The 1,065-foot-long Rita is the largest ship to ever come to Charleston. The only other vessel docked at the port today that came close to Rita’s size was the 850-foot Ville D. Aquarius. The smallest vessel in port on Thursday was the 383-foot Ocean Titan. The MSC Rita can hold 8,034 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit container).

“Importers and exporters across the U.S. Southeast and Gulf region will benefit from additional connections into China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and India through Charleston,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the S.C. State Ports Authority.

The GGS port rotation includes Shanghai, Ningbo, Chiwan and Yantian, China; Singapore; Salalah, Oman; Suez Canal transit; New York; Baltimore; Norfolk; Charleston; Freeport, Bahamas; Suez Canal transit; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Singapore; Chiwan; and Hong Kong.

Additional connecting services offer links to ports in India, the Red Sea and the Middle East. The Golden Gate service also provides a 21-day transit time outbound from Charleston to Jeddah.

Charleston has the deepest water south of Norfolk on the U.S. East Coast, with a 45-foot deep shipping channel at mean low water, which is the average depth of the shipping channel at low tide. A five- to six-foot tidal lift allows ships with up to 48 feet of draft to transit the harbor.

The Rita has a maximum draft of 47.5 feet.

MSC already sends five ships a week to Charleston serving the western Mediterranean, South American, Caribbean, African and European trades.

In 2009, MSC and the SCSPA signed a new five-year extension to the carrier’s contract, lengthening its commitment in Charleston to 2017.

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