Construction of the first of two liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered, combination container – Roll-On/Roll-Off ( ConRo ) ships for Crowley Maritime Corporation’s liner services group reached another important milestone last week, with the installation of three LNG fuel tanks. The double-walled, stainless steel tanks – which are 110 feet in length and 20.6 feet in diameter – weigh 225 metric tons and will hold more than enough LNG fuel for two round-trip voyages between the vessel’s future ports of call, Jacksonville, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“While we are all excitedly watching these ships take shape, we are particularly proud of the role we, as a company, are playing to bring the most modern, technologically advanced and environmentally friendly ConRo ships in the world to the Jones Act market of Puerto Rico,” said Tom Crowley, company chairman and CEO. “There are no other ships of their kind being built anywhere else in the world today, and they are being constructed right here at home – in the United States of America. Having that shipbuilding capability here is essential to our national defense and an important reason we as a country need the Jones Act to be maintained and strengthened.”
The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides for the promotion and maintenance of a strong American merchant marine. It requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flag ships constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.
Crowley’s two Jones Act ships, which will be named El Coquí (ko-kee) and Taíno (tahy-noh), are currently under construction at VT Halter Marine, Inc., a subsidiary of VT Systems, Inc. The ceremonial first steel plate cutting was celebrated with a ceremony held at VT Halter in October 2014. El Coquí and Taíno are scheduled for delivery second and fourth quarter 2017 respectively.
“It’s very impressive to see these new state-of-the-art Commitment Class ships take shape,” said John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico services. “Seeing those LNG tanks being placed into El Coquí really resonates with me because we are setting a new standard for environmentally responsible shipping.”
The Commitment Class ships have been designed to maximize the carriage of 53-foot, 102-inch-wide containers, which offer the most cubic cargo capacity in the trade. The ships will be 219.5 meters long, 32.3 meters wide (beam), have a deep draft of 10 meters, and an approximate deadweight capacity of 26,500 metric tonnes. Cargo capacity will be approximately 2,400 TEUs (20-foot-equivalent-units), with additional space for nearly 400 vehicles in an enclosed Ro/Ro garage. The main propulsion and auxiliary engines will be fueled by environmentally friendly LNG. The ship design is provided by Wartsila Ship Design in conjunction with Crowley subsidiary Jensen Maritime, a leading Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm.
“These new ships will offer customers fast ocean transit times, while accommodating the company’s diverse equipment selection and cargo handling flexibility – benefits customers have enjoyed for over 60 years,” said Hourihan.
LNG is a stable gas that is neither toxic nor corrosive and is lighter than air. It is the cleanest fossil fuel available, netting a 100-percent reduction in sulphur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM), and a 92-percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx). LNG also has the ability to significantly reduce carbon dioxide (CO2), a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, as compared with conventional fossil fuels.
Designing, building and operating LNG-powered vessels is very much in line with Crowley’s overall EcoStewardship© positioning and growth strategy. The company formed an LNG services group last year to bring together the company’s extensive resources to provide LNG vessel design and construction management; transportation; product sales and distribution, and full-scale, project management solutions.
Jacksonville-based Crowley Holdings Inc., a holding company of the 123-year-old Crowley Maritime Corporation, is a privately held family and employee-owned company. The company provides marine solutions, energy and logistics services in domestic and international markets by means of six operating lines of business: Puerto Rico Liner Services, Caribbean and Latin America Liner Services, Logistics Services, Petroleum Services, Marine Services and Technical Services. Offered within these operating lines of business are: liner container shipping, logistics, contract towing and transportation; ship assist and tanker escort; energy support; salvage and emergency response through its 50 percent ownership in Ardent Global; vessel management; vessel construction and naval architecture through its Jensen Maritime subsidiary; government services, and petroleum and chemical transportation, distribution and sales.