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South Carolina Ports Authority Went Dark for Three Days Due to Outage

A software problem caused a major disruption for the South Carolina Ports Authority last week.

As a result, all vessel and container operations were put on hold from Sunday, May 19th until Tuesday morning, May 21st. Both marine and inland terminals were impacted by the suspension. Gates were closed, and no cargo was picked up or dropped off during this time.

The eighth-largest container port in the U.S. is the South Carolina Ports Authority, which owns and runs the Port of Charleston, Inland Port Greer, and Inland Port Dillon. In 2023, 2,482,080 TEUs were handled. In the first quarter of 2024, 627,297 TEUs were handled, a 3% increase over the same period in 2023 (according to data from the SC Ports Authority.)

The port authority discovered the issue, and on Sunday released its first advisory, claiming that “initial findings show that a software issue impacted a server” and that “it does not appear to be a cybersecurity issue.”

The port had to reschedule multiple times in order to resume operations, so on Monday and Tuesday, several updates were released. In an 8 p.m. local time update on Tuesday, May 21st, the port said, “SC Ports gate and yard operations are online, and operations have resumed at all marine terminals and Inland Port Greer.”

The forced shutdown that lasted almost three days was a major blow to the supply chain.

The shutdown led to several problems for the industry. Ships were unable to call the port for discharge operations and were left outside of the port anchored. Containers sat idle at the port. It was not possible to deliver goods on schedule or bring empty containers back to South Carolina Ports Authority ports.

This proves that events like strikes and natural disasters are not always the cause of supply chain disruptions. It serves as a reminder to the shipping sector to always be ready for unforeseen issues and have rapid problem-solving skills. Overcoming challenges and maintaining smooth operations require being organized and flexible.

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