City of Charleston from the harbor

The Port of Charleston

Shortly after its founding in 1670, Charles Towne was chosen by Lord’s Proprietor Anthony Ashley Cooper to be the capital of the Carolina colony and to become a great port city. Charleston’s economy prospered in the early years due largely to its busy seaport and the cultivation of rice, cotton, and indigo. By the mid-18th century Charleston had become a bustling trade center, and the wealthiest and largest city south of Philadelphia. The Port of Charleston, South Carolina has been a trade hub for the Southeast for over 350 years and continues today to be an important and competitive port city supporting a diverse array of maritime interests.

Maritime Law

Charleston’s harbor today is filled not only with cargo vessels of various types, but also with tugs, barges, dredges, and other commercial vessels and recreational vessels of all sizes and types. Unbeknownst to most, a unique set of laws governs most of the interactions between all of these vessels, the crew and passengers aboard them, and the business transactions which surround their operation. Admiralty and maritime law traces its roots to the rules developed in the ancient seaports of the Mediterranean, and although it was transplanted to Charleston and later the United States through our ties to England, it differs significantly from the land-side statutory and common law that most of us deal with on a daily basis.

Charleston Maritime Lawyers

Admiralty and maritime attorneys in Charleston deal with some of the same types of matters that land-side lawyers deal with – business contracts, insurance matters, and work-place injuries, for example, however, their job is to advise clients on these matters against the backdrop of the peculiarities of the admiralty and maritime law. Maritime attorneys also deal with a number of matters which may be largely unknown to the non-maritime lawyer, including claims on behalf of Longshoremen or Jones Act seamen, the in rem arrest of vessels or cargo, foreclosure of maritime liens, claims for loss or damage to cargo under the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, passenger claims, and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol issues.


The attorneys at John Hughes Cooper, P.C. cover the waterfront in the area of admiralty and maritime law. If you are in need of a maritime lawyer in Charleston or in any other part of South Carolina, the law firm of John Hughes Cooper, P.C. has over 30 years of experience assisting those in South Carolina and other locations in the Southeast with admiralty and maritime law related issues. Please call or email us at any time for a free, confidential consultation.