The following is the text of a news release from TOTE Inc.:
(SAN DIEGO) — More than 3,400 people gathered to watch as the world’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered containership, christened Isla Bella, was launched Saturday night in San Diego. The ships’ owner, TOTE, in partnership with General Dynamics NASSCO, celebrated the completion of the first of two Marlin-class containerships headed to Puerto Rico later this year.
The use of LNG as a marine fuel in the U.S. defines a major shift for the industry. By switching to LNG, TOTE is reducing NOx emissions by 98 percent, SOx by 97 percent, carbon dioxide by 72 and particulate matter by 60 percent in the Puerto Rico trade.
In his remarks, Anthony Chiarello, president and CEO of TOTE, noted, “Building the Marlins has been about change as well as bold and innovative thinking. NASSCO and our other partners have enabled us to build these ships that reflect our commitment to the environment and doing what is right.”
The Marlin-class vessels have attracted international attention as the first cargo ships in the world to run on natural gas. In addition to their improved environmental profile, the Marlins will represent a new standard in safety and TOTE’s long-term commitment to the people of Puerto Rico.
Mark Tabbutt, the chairman of Saltchuk, TOTE’s parent company, thanked the many partners who worked on the new generation of containership. “We especially want to thank the hundreds of men and women that did the real work — the welding, the piping, the lifting, the planning, the electrical, the designing, the logistics, the painting, and all the other work that went into making these ships a reality.” He went on to recognize the support of the U.S. Maritime Administration and NASSCO for their long-term partnership.
The ship’s name, Isla Bella, was selected from a contest hosted in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico. Isla Bella translates to "beautiful island" in English and will serve as a reminder of the cultural and economic significance of the ships for future generations.
Sophie Sacco, wife of Michael Sacco, president of the Seafarers International Union, is the ship’s sponsor and had the honors of christening and launching the vessel.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, provided the keynote address. "America's maritime industry is critical not just for the economic benefits, but for national security purposes as well. With the launch of the world's first natural gas-powered containership, NASSCO and TOTE prove that American shipbuilders and American ships can lead the industry in innovation, and it is my hope that American shipbuilders and operators can continue to build upon this success,” he said.
Gen. Paul Selva, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), also spoke. "This first Marlin-class ship exemplifies the technology and innovation that the United States is known for. It also highlights the commitment of companies like TOTE to supporting the U.S. military and maritime sector that is vitally important to our national defense," he noted in his remarks.
Click here to see a video of the launch.