Life on the Water: How Crane Mechanics keep the SC Ports Authority moving

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Life in the Lowcountry means life on the water. This week, we’re looking at jobs that profit, preserve, and provide entertainment on our coast.

In 2015, the South Carolina Ports Authority brought in $53 billion to the state of South Carolina.

155-feet in the air, the day-to-day life of a crane mechanic helps make it all possible.

Kevin Matthews, the heavy-lift maintenance team leader, says the team’s work hard to make sure all equipment is working properly.

“If we weren’t here to keep the machines running, no cargo would get moved and ships would be piling up in the harbor,” he said.

It’s a big task considering these cranes are capable of lifting up to 65 long tons at one time.

“It’s a lot,” said Stephen Murphy, a heavy lift mechanic. “Probably most of the boxes we load and unload around 30-40,000. There are some that are considerably heavier.”

The crane mechanics say the Ports Authority operates on a 24/7 schedule, loading and unloading containers from ships in the harbor.

“Ships keep on coming in and we just try and keep up with the pace,” said Eric Scanlon, a heavy-lift mechanic.

Their efforts don’t go unnoticed. The Ports Authority is an economic driver for the state of South Carolina.

“One in every eleven jobs in the state are directly tied to the port, so it equates to about 188,000 jobs statewide,” explains Kelsi Brewer, a manager for the SC Ports Authority.

Brewer says most businesses in the area rely on the port to get the product they need, which is why these crane mechanics pride themselves on having a 99-percent reliability rate.

“It’s most definitely hard work but all we love what we do, we do a good job,” said Murphy. “Our productivity reflects that”.

From birthday gifts to kitchen utensils, the port could be supplying goods you use every day.

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