MSC Begins Asia-Suez Service in Charleston

SCSPA News Release
February 25, 2010

Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC) “Golden Gate Service” (GGS) made its inaugural call today in the Port of Charleston, linking the Southeast’s deepest seaport with China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

The first vessel in the service to call Charleston, the MSC Rita, arrived overnight and is working today at the Port of Charleston’s Wando Welch Terminal. The 1,065-foot-long vessel has a maximum draft of 47.5 feet.

“The Port of Charleston and the entire state of South Carolina are proud to welcome the GGS service and the Rita to our state,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA). “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.”

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; Hong Kong. Connecting services through the GGS offer extensive links to ports in India, the Red Sea and the Middle East.

The service provides a 21-day transit time outbound from Charleston to Jeddah.

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

The GGS also consolidates MSC’s already strong presence in the Port of Charleston and in the local community. MSC already sends five additional 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.

Last year, MSC dedicated its new, 45,000-square-foot South Atlantic corporate headquarters in Mount Pleasant, S.C. The company directly employs approximately 225 professionals in the Charleston region.

The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established by the state’s General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $62 billion annually and receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year.

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