The following is the text of a news release from Crowley Maritime Corp.:
(PASCAGOULA, Miss.) — Today marked a historic moment for Crowley as VT Halter Marine Inc., a subsidiary of VT Systems Inc., officially began construction on the first of two liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered, combination container roll-on/roll-off (con-ro) ships for Crowley Maritime Corp.’s liner services group. VT Halter Marine and Crowley entered into a contract for the pair of ships in November 2013 and construction began with the first steel plate cutting in Pascagoula, Miss., this morning.
“We have waited with great anticipation for the Commitment-class build program to start,” said John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico/Caribbean liner services. “These new ships will embody superior technology and construction and we are anxious to get them into service for our partners in Puerto Rico.”
“VT Halter Marine is pleased and excited to announce the first steel plate cut which launches the official start of construction for these new LNG con-ro ships. These vessels signify how important the Jones Act is to Americans employed in the marine industry. We are most grateful for Crowley’s continued confidence in VT Halter Marine,” said Bill Skinner, CEO, VT Halter Marine.
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.
The Commitment-class Jones Act ships will replace Crowley’s towed triple-deck barge fleet, which has served the trade continuously and with distinction since the early 1970s. These new ships, which will be named El Coquí (ko-kee) and Taíno (tahy-noh), will offer customers fast ocean transit times, while accommodating the company’s diverse equipment selection and cargo handling flexibility — benefits customers have enjoyed for nearly 60 years. El Coquí and Taíno are scheduled for delivery in the second and fourth quarter 2017 respectively.
Powered by LNG, the Crowley ships will set a new standard for environmentally responsible shipping. 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 sulfur 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 earlier this 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.