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McMaster on Marco Polo ship arrival: ‘This is what teamwork looks like’

Updated: May. 28, 2021 at 4:23 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s governor celebrated the arrival of the largest container ship ever to dock at a South Carolina port Friday in Mount Pleasant.

The cargo ship Marco Polo arrived Friday morning at the Wando Terminal, making the Charleston area its final stop before the massive 1,300-foot long, 175-foot wide vessel heads overseas.

McMaster was expected to speak at around noon from the South Carolina Ports Authority headquarters in Mount Pleasant to celebrate the milestone event.

The governor praised the cooperation and strength reflected by the ship’s arrival and the work on infrastructure he said was necessary to make it possible.

“This is what teamwork looks like,” McMaster said standing feet away from the Marco Polo Friday afternoon. “South Carolina is open for business. We never did close, we never will close and as Darius Rucker says, ‘Come, let me tell you why I love this place.’”

S.C. Ports has invested $2 billion in infrastructure in recent years, including enhancements to Wando Welch Terminal, to handle bigger ships and more cargo.

S.C. Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome calls the ship’s scheduled arrival a big moment for the state.

“SC Ports has long planned for the arrival of such a ship by investing significantly in big-ship infrastructure and cargo capacity, as well as deepening Charleston Harbor,” he said. “We are all proud to share in this milestone.”

The ship can carry more than 16,000 containers. Ship-to-shore cranes with 155 feet of lift height above the wharf deck stand ready to load and unload such vessels, port officials say.

“Our efficient operations and deep harbor are designed to handle ships of this size,” SC Ports COO Barbara Melvin said.

The Marco Polo has traveled along the eastern coast. It arrived in Savannah Wednesday to a cheering crowd.

The ship is operated by the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics. The Marco Polo is sailing on CMA CGM’s Columbus JAX service and is traveling from South Asia to the eastern U.S. Coast.

“Bigger ships carry more cargo, further supporting port-dependent businesses and jobs throughout South Carolina and beyond,” S.C. Ports Board Chairman Bill Stern said.

Port operations support 1 in 10 jobs in the state, Stern said.

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