YM World

The YM World (above) now holds the title as the largest container ship ever to visit the Port of Charleston. It arrived on May 5. Provided/State Ports Authority

The Port of Charleston worked its biggest cargo ship on record last weekend, a milestone that came on the heels of another strong month on the waterfront.

The State Ports Authority said Thursday that the equivalent of 204,621 20-foot containers crossed its Mount Pleasant and North Charleston terminals in April, a 4.2 percent gain from the same month last year.

Based on that industry measurement, the SPA has moved nearly 2 million of the boxes on and off ships since its fiscal year began July 1. That's roughly 10 percent ahead of the previous 10-month period.

SPA chief executive Jim Newsome said April was another strong month for Charleston’s container business, "supporting volumes well above planned levels with only two months remaining in the fiscal year.”

A 10 percent gain on June 30 would equate to more than 2.4 million containers coming and going from the port.

The SPA also said its two inland cargo hubs in Greer and Dillon reached "near-record" volumes last month, which marked the one-year anniversary of the opening of the Pee Dee site.

Newsome predicted "a very positive" finish to the maritime agency's financial year.

The final figures will include the goods loaded on and taken off the Hong Kong-flagged YM World, which arrived at the Wando Welch Terminal on Sunday. At 1,208 feet long and able to haul nearly 14,000 containers, it became the largest cargo vessel ever to call at the Port of Charleston, the SPA said Thursday.

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It wasn't long ago that Newsome was bracing for a 10 percent or larger drop in volume on the belief that Asian companies were shipping their U.S.-bound cargo early to avoid a new raft of higher tariffs.

The import fees never materialized, and the March volume figures at the Charleston port climbed to a record high for that month.  

Now, the threat is back. Barring a last-minute resolution, President Donald Trump plans to more than double tariffs Friday on a variety of Chinese imports valued at $200 billion.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott