Photo: Arrival of 15 rubber-tired gantry cranes, Photo/SCPA/English Purcell

15 hybrid cranes join SC Ports’ Leatherman Terminal

Image courtesy: SCPA/English Purcell

South Carolina Ports has welcomed 15 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes intended for its Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, a new container terminal set for opening in March 2021.

The RTG cranes were fabricated by ZPMC and then shipped across the Pacific Ocean and through the Panama Canal before making their final leg of the journey to Charleston.

They arrived in North Charleston, on December 11, on the Zhen Hua 15 heavy load vessel. The voyage marked a record-setting shipment for Shanghai-based manufacturer ZPMC as the voyage saw the most rubber-tired gantry cranes loaded by ZPMC onto one vessel bound for the United States.

Once the cranes are offloaded onto the Leatherman Terminal, the ZPMC USA team will commission the cranes over the next few months before they are put into service.

Crane operators will then run the RTG cranes within the 47-acre container yard.

The new RTGs run 100% on electric battery power, meaning diesel-only runs when the batteries need to be recharged, which effectively reduces idling time. The batteries, supplied by Corvus Energy, are expected to reduce fuel consumption by around 70% when compared to conventional diesel port cranes.

The cranes will use regenerative braking energy, which is captured and stored as electricity when a container is lowered. 

The cranes form part of the terminal’s 25 new hybrid RTGs, joining four RTGs that arrived last month, and an additional six RTGs scheduled to be delivered early next year.

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SC Ports will also receive eight empty container handlers this month; they are produced by Finland-based Kalmar for use in the Leatherman Terminal container yard.

“With each equipment arrival, we take a step closer to realizing the Leatherman Terminal,” SC Ports COO Barbara Melvin said.

“Our SC Ports Engineering Department and numerous project partners perform an unbelievable amount of work and coordination on the site every day to make our March opening possible.”

The Leatherman Terminal’s Phase One will add 700,000 TEUs of annual throughput capacity to the Port of Charleston when it opens in March.

At full build-out, the three-berth terminal will double SC Ports’ current capacity by adding 2.4 million TEUs of throughput capacity.

“The Leatherman Terminal’s 1,400-foot berth, five ship-to-shore cranes and 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes will provide efficient, reliable service to our customers,” SC Ports CEO Jim Newsome said.

“The Leatherman Terminal will have ample capacity and the ability to handle a 19,000-TEU vessel, enabling more cargo to flow in and out of the Southeast.”

The $1 billion Phase One of the terminal complements efforts to modernize Wando Welch Terminal and deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet.

The port authority expects these investments to enable SC Ports to handle four 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously in 2021.