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Charleston District Navigation

The Charleston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for 15 navigation projects, shown above in red, along the South Carolina coast stretching from Little River Inlet near the North Carolina border to Port Royal Harbor on South Carolina’s southern coast.  Some of Charleston District's projects include: Charleston Harbor, Georgetown Harbor, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and other shallow draft projects.

Charleston Harbor is the largest of these navigation projects. An average of 2,500 vessels annually calls on over forty miles of Federally Authorized Navigation Channels that comprise Charleston Harbor. In 2011, Charleston Harbor was ranked eighth in the nation for the dollar value of goods handled, with paper and paper products being the highest exported product that year.

The Navigation mission is to provide safe, reliable, efficient, effective, and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems (i.e. channels, harbors, and waterways) for movement of commerce, national security needs and recreation. Responsibilities include planning and constructing new navigation channels, ports, and harbors, and maintaining channel depths along coastal channels, ports, and harbors.

The navigation program is vital to the nation’s economy. Our nation’s coastal transportation system encompasses a network of navigable channels, ports, harbors, and infrastructure maintained by the Corps, as well as publicly and privately owned vessels, terminals, inter-modal connections, shipyards, and repair facilities. Coastal navigation is a key element of State and local government economic development and job-creation efforts, and is essential in maintaining economic competitiveness and national security.

Federal Navigation Channel Setback Information

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Charleston District establishes a setback from all Federal channels. A setback is a distance from the channel in which construction is prohibited. Setbacks are intended to serve two primary purposes: 1) they give the USACE and its contractors adequate space and maneuverability to perform dredging throughout a channel, and 2) they provide commercial and private boating traffic a safety margin when navigating Federal channels. Please be aware that most construction and maintenance activities over, under or within navigable waters, whether affecting the setback or not, require authorization from the USACE Regulatory Program and the DHEC: Coastal Management. You should contact these organizations directly if proposing to undertake construction in these areas.