SC Ports’ Leatherman Terminal Recognized as ‘South Carolina Project of the Year’

SC Ports Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal adds an additional berth to the East Coast port market during a time of booming retail imports and unprecedented demand. (Photo/SCPA/Walter Lagarenne)

SC Ports Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal adds an additional berth to the East Coast port market during a time of booming retail imports and unprecedented demand. (Photo/SCPA/Walter Lagarenne)

CHARLESTON, SC — South Carolina Ports’ Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal has been named 2021 South Carolina Project of the Year by the South Carolina Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

This prestigious award recognizes the complex engineering and construction process behind the Leatherman Terminal’s Phase One, and it celebrates the extensive collaboration among numerous partners needed to realize the $1 billion project.

The state-of-the-art container terminal can efficiently work the biggest ships calling on East Coast ports. Phase One was completed on budget and ahead of schedule. The terminal handled its first container on March 30 and welcomed its first vessel on April 9.

“SC Ports is immensely proud to open the first container terminal in the U.S. since 2009 in South Carolina, adding capacity to the East Coast port market at a time it is sorely needed,” SC Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “The opening of Leatherman Terminal is the culmination of years of effort by our talented engineering team and project partners. It is their expertise, vision and hard work that made this container terminal a reality.”

Project partners had to navigate challenging site conditions and oversee a complicated project while managing multiple contracts and hundreds of people working on the site every day. The SC Ports’ engineering team worked with many contractors, including primary contract holders HDR Inc., Banks Construction Co., Samet Corp., Cape Romain/McLean A Joint Venture and Cape Romain Contractors Inc., as well as many South Carolina-based secondary contractors.

Many efforts contributed to the success of the project and the opening of Phase One, including SC Ports’ clear vision of its needs and priorities, and a collaborative spirit that encouraged innovation among all partners working on the site.

Additional strategies proved to be critical to project success, such as:

-A design and contracting strategy that prioritized local participation, with more than 80% of the dollars spent on construction contracts being awarded to S.C.-based firms.
-Value engineering at the beginning of the construction process that discovered tens of millions of dollars in savings.
-A risk management process that anticipated and proactively managed obstacles.

“Building and operating a port is like orchestrating an intricate ballet,” SC Ports COO Barbara Melvin said. “This momentous achievement of opening and operating our world-class facility is the result of tremendous collaboration among our entire team — particularly our excellent engineers — and numerous project partners.”

Leatherman Terminal strengthens SC Ports’ big-ship capabilities and adds 700,000 TEUs of throughput capacity. Its equipment, technology and design provide reliable, efficient service to customers.

The 1,400-foot berth can handle a 20,000-TEU vessel. Five electric ship-to-shore cranes with 169 feet of lift height and 228 feet of outreach stand on the wharf.

The 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes and eight empty container handlers efficiently move cargo boxes around the terminal. The rubber-tired gantry cranes are designed to reduce emissions and energy consumption. A six-acre refrigerated cargo area includes six-story tall, refrigerated container racks, enabling SC Ports to handle more refrigerated and frozen goods.

At full buildout, the $2 billion Leatherman Terminal will have three berths and 286 acres, adding 2.4 million TEUs and doubling current port capacity.

SC Ports’ Leatherman Terminal will have lasting positive impacts on the maritime community and state. It greatly enhances South Carolina’s supply chain and serves S.C. businesses, distribution centers, mega retailers and advanced manufacturers.

SC Ports is an economic engine for South Carolina, and Phase One of the Leatherman Terminal will attract more businesses and create additional jobs for South Carolinians for generations to come.

Quotes from SC Ports team:

“This has been a great collaborative job by our construction contractor partners, engineering consultants and the Port’s own Engineering team. The level of coordination exhibited by all the project partners was the best I’ve seen in my nearly 40-year career. With a majority of the construction contracts issued to South Carolina based firms, we like to say the terminal was ‘Built by South Carolinians for South Carolina.’ Congratulations to the entire team for an outstanding job of bringing the Phase One project to a successful completion, on time and on budget.” — Walter Lagarenne, SC Ports’ Senior Director of Engineering and Facilities

“The complexities of building a container terminal require great teamwork and persistence over many years. I have worked on this project from the start, from overseeing site preparation and site development of the former Navy Base, to managing the day-to-day construction of building a world-class container terminal. After 14 years of working on the site, it is deeply rewarding to see operations bustling at Leatherman Terminal.” — Butch Weber, SC Ports’ General Manager of Project Management and Construction

“Building Phase One of the Leatherman Terminal was a complex challenge that involved almost every discipline of engineering. The SC Ports team and our project partners made the decision to collaborate daily, resulting in creative, value-added designs for this critical project. It is an incredibly proud moment to see Phase One operational as we welcome cargo and ships to the country’s first container terminal to open in more than a decade.” — Lucy Terza, SC Ports’ Engineering Project Manager

“The Leatherman Terminal has five electric ship-to-shore cranes and 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes. Our team oversaw the selection, design and fabrication of cranes overseas and then coordinated the equipment arrivals on a very active construction site. Following months of testing, these state-of-the-art cranes are busy moving containers on and off mega container ships and around the container yard. It is incredibly rewarding to see these massive pieces of cargo-handling equipment in action, resulting from years of planning.” — Ed Stehmeyer, SC Ports’ General Manager, Projects and Design

About South Carolina Ports Authority

South Carolina Ports Authority, established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion in annual economic activity. SC Ports is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet. SC Ports is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. Please visit to learn more about SC Ports.

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