Charleston Harbor Deepening Project Receives Final U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Approval - SC Ports Authority
Home > Newsroom > News Entries > Charleston Harbor Deepening Project Receives Final U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Approval
SC Ports Logo

176 Concord Street, P.O. Box 22287, Charleston, SC 29413-2287
Contact: Erin Dhand, Manager, Corporate Communications and Community Affairs
Telephone: 843-577-8121 • Fax: 843-577-8127 • e-mail:


Charleston Harbor Deepening Project Receives Final U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Approval

Project earns Chief’s Report in record four years; Charleston to be deepest East Coast harbor

CHARLESTON, SC – September 14, 2015 – Today the 52-foot Charleston Harbor Deepening Project announced receipt of its Chief’s Report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, their final substantive approval required for the project to progress through construction.

The report by Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to the Secretary of the Army outlines the recommendation of deepening the Charleston Harbor channel to 52 feet and entrance channel to 54 feet, as well as enlarging turning basins to accommodate for post-Panamax vessels calling South Carolina Port Authority’s (SCPA) container terminals. After review by the Secretary’s office, the report moves to the Office of Management and Budget for review and then to Congress for review and authorization, expected early next year.

“Receipt of the Chief’s Report is tremendous news for SCPA,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “By the end of the decade, we will achieve 52 feet of depth and Charleston will be the deepest harbor on the East Coast. This depth advantage will provide our customers with 24-hour access to deepwater, a requirement for significant long-term volume growth in today’s big-ship environment. We are grateful for the expertise and leadership of our partners, the US Army Corps of Engineers, who deliver today’s news just four years after we began the deepening process.”

The Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) phase of Charleston Harbor Deepening received federal funding in July and will begin in earnest with the signing of a Design Agreement between the Corps and SCPA. This federal investment will allow the Corps of Engineers to proceed with work in order to finalize the project design and produce construction contract documents. PED is the final major step in the technical work for deepening before dredging begins.

“South Carolina, the Southeastern region and our nation will enjoy the positive impacts of the Charleston Harbor Deepening for years to come,” said SCPA Board Chairman Bill Stern. “Today’s announcement reflects the dedication and united support of state and federal elected officials and the Obama Administration. This project ensures SCPA remains a competitive, growing port well into the future.”

Efforts to deepen the Charleston Harbor began in 2011 in order to provide the depth necessary to handle post-Panamax vessel calls without tidal restriction. In 2012, the SC General Assembly set aside the full estimated state share of the deepening construction costs, and the project was named was named one of President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiatives.


“This is fantastic news for the Charleston Port and our state’s economy.  Ensuring the Charleston Harbor deepening project remains on track has been and remains a top priority for me.  We’ve come a long way in a very short amount of time.  I’m proud of Jim Newsome, the Port leadership team and all the work we have done thus far, but I will not stop pushing until this project is completed. With this latest development, we’ll now push Congress to provide us with the tools needed to finish the job.  I realize that jobs, both today and in the future, are at stake with this project.  Our economic future, and the livelihood of thousands of people in the Palmetto State depend on getting this project done.  When it comes to deepening Charleston Harbor, failure is simply not an option.” –  U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

“I am thrilled that the Army Corps of Engineers has issued its final Chief’s Report. More than 187,000 jobs in South Carolina are tied to the Port, which has a $53 billion economic impact on the state each year.  I have worked with the Obama Administration to ensure that funds have been provided annually to carry out this review process.  Now that the project has its final approval, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to provide the authorization and funding necessary to deepen the harbor to 52 feet.  This project will create good jobs and generate economic growth and opportunity throughout the state.” –  6th District Congressman Jim Clyburn

“This is great news for the bright future ahead in the state of South Carolina. Port deepening is typically a long process. The turnover time of the process conducted by the Charleston Army Corp of Engineers is a significant accomplishment and they deserve acknowledgement for the work. Now, Congress must act to authorize the project. A deeper port in Charleston is common sense. Once that work is complete, larger ships will be able to come through the Canal and deliver goods to and from Atlantic and Gulf ports along the Eastern seaboard. This will be one of the key economic drivers of the 21st century. The economic growth for the state of South Carolina will be substantial. Deepening the Charleston Port provides enhances a critical artery to the American economic engine. People now will look to South Carolina as the critical entry point to the American business and consumer. If America is going to compete on the global stage, we need to be ready for this transformation. I am proud South Carolina will be home to the frontier of the cutting edge 21st century American economy.” –  3rd District Congressman Jeff Duncan 

“I’m extraordinarily proud that the Army Corps of Engineers has submitted the report for the Post-45 Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to Congress.  This is a great example of teamwork by the entire SC delegation, and I’m happy to have been involved in moving it forward.  Even though the Port isn’t in my district, I know it provides an economic engine for the entire state.  I look forward to swift Congressional authorization of Charleston-52.” –  5th District Congressman Mick Mulvaney

“Congratulations to the Ports Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers. Once deepened, Charleston will be the most competitive port on the East Coast. With over 187,000 jobs in South Carolina tied to the port, the harbor deepening will bring significant benefits to our entire state, including the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.” –  7th District Congressman Tom Rice

“The Charleston port has been a key component to the economic growth seen throughout the Lowcountry and the State.  With the deepening of the harbor, the port will continue to remain competitive in the global marketplace as well as provide jobs and improve the quality of life for South Carolinians. I believe the US Army Corp of Engineers, the Charleston District in particular, deserves tremendous credit for finalizing the feasibility study on schedule.” – 1st District Congressman Mark Sanford

“This is incredibly positive news for the Port and the entire state of South Carolina.  I congratulate the US Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District and SCPA for this monumental achievement in a record amount of time.” – Senator Larry Grooms, SC Review and Oversight Commission on the SCPA Chairman

“Today’s receipt of the Chief’s Report is a testament to years of hard work and outstanding leadership by our state, local, and federal partners.  This world-class deepening project will help ensure our Port remains well-positioned for future growth.” –  Representative Jim Merrill, SC Review and Oversight Commission on the SCPA Vice-Chairman

Press Room Archives