Productive and punctual, Jones Act tanker is ray of sunshine for Chevron

The 600-foot tanker Sunshine State turned east out of the Gulf of Mexico, skirted the Dry Tortugas and steamed toward a drop-dead gorgeous sunrise. Twenty-one miles into the Atlantic Ocean, 2nd Mate Justin Eusepi swung the ship north into the Straits of Florida and the Gulf Stream current, bound for Port Everglades, Fla. The ship’s speed increased to 15.5 knots and continued to rise from an average of 14.3 knots in the Gulf.

Sunshine State sails in the Gulf of Mexico at about 14 knots en route to Port Everglades, Fla. The 600-foot Jones Act vessel, chartered to Chevron Shipping, is managed by Crowley Technical Services. (Brian Gauvin photo)

The tanker is chartered to Chevron Shipping and runs between the Chevron terminal in Pascagoula, Miss., and Tampa or Port Everglades, Fla.

“Loss of time is the kiss of death to the charters,†explained Capt. Dan Liziewski. “By the end of the month (August 2010) she will have completed 31 trips in eight months, moving close to a million barrels a month. That’s very good productivity.â€

Sunshine State is one of five State-class tankers owned by American Petroleum Tankers (APT), a company formed out of a Chapter 11 settlement with U.S. Shipping. Crowley Technical Services manages the operations and crewing for APT. All five Jones Act ships were constructed at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. (Golden State, American Ship Review 2009-2010).

At 1330 we were 22 nm southeast of Upper Matecumbe Key and making 18.4 knots. At 1730 the Miami skyline was visible across Biscayne Bay. Nine nm southeast of Port Everglades, Liziewski ordered the vessel to drift while awaiting a berth at the congested port. The bridge team had plotted a controlled overnight drift northward to a point 40 miles north of Port Everglades. The idea was to return to the point of origin under power and repeat the drift until the ship was cleared to enter the port.

The crew of the tanker Sunshine State operates from the bridge while the ship departs Pascagoula, Miss. From left, Second Mate Justin Eusepi, deck cadet Paul Ferrell and helmsman AB Ed Tennyson. (Brian Gauvin photo)

The next morning at 0300, Port Everglades harbor pilot Capt. Dean Grant came aboard on the starboard pilot ladder to complete the inbound voyage. Fresh coffee was passed around.

“The best thing about this ship is the cargo system,†said Liziewski. “For a product tanker loading and discharging and changing grades, it doesn’t get much better.†The system is capable of loading and discharging a full 331,000 barrels in 24 hours.

Sunshine State Pumpman Jeffrey Fields, left, and Chief Mate Chris Menenzes change the blinds on the mix master to reroute different fuels. (Brian Gauvin photo)

At 1010 a day later, Port Everglades harbor pilot Capt. Preston Shelton came aboard for departure. Sunshine State, assisted by Seabulk Towing tugs, slipped its moorings, made the short passage through the entrance channel and headed back around Florida for Pascagoula.

“That wasn’t very exciting and that’s the way we like it,†said Eusepi.

By Professional Mariner Staff