VT Halter launches first LNG con-ro for Crowley


The following is the text of a news release from Crowley Maritime Corp.:

(PASCAGOULA, Miss.) — Crowley Maritime Corp. and VT Halter Marine launched Crowley’s new Commitment-class El Coqui, one of the world’s first combination container/roll-on/roll-off (con-ro) ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), on Monday in Pascagoula, Miss.

Putting the ship into the water was the first in a series of milestones expected to be achieved this week as part of Crowley’s $550 million project to expand and modernize the company’s shipping and logistics services between Jacksonville, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

El Coqui, named after a beloved frog native to the island, will now proceed through the final topside construction and testing phase before beginning service in the U.S. Jones Act trade during the second half of 2017.

“This was a special day for Crowley, VT Halter Marine and all of the men and women who designed, and who are constructing, this world-class ship,” said Tom Crowley, company chairman and CEO. “We are extremely appreciative of all the work that has been accomplished so far and look forward to the successful delivery of El Coqui later this year and her sister ship, Taino, in the first half of next year.”

“The ship launch also marks the beginning of a very momentous week for Crowley and our Commitment-class project,” Crowley said. “We are expecting the arrival of three new gantry cranes at our new terminal pier in San Juan later this week, and two 1-million-liter cryogenic tanks at our LNG bunkering facility being built at the Port of Jacksonville, Fla.”

El Coqui, like its sister ship Taino, will be able to transport up to 2,400 20-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) and a mix of nearly 400 cars and larger vehicles in the enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight ro-ro decks. A wide range of container sizes and types can be accommodated, ranging from 20-foot standard to 53-foot by 102-inch-wide high-capacity units, as well as up to 300 refrigerated containers.

“The launch of the El Coqui is a strong indication of our commitment to the success of our customer Crowley,” said Paul J. Albert, CEO of VT Halter Marine. “Our thanks to both the shipbuilders of VT Halter Marine and the Crowley project team for all their hard work in delivering such a significant vessel."

Construction of both El Coqui and Taino, the latter named for an indigenous people of Puerto Rico, is being managed in the shipyard by Crowley Marine Solutions, which includes naval architecture and marine engineering subsidiary Jensen Maritime.

“The new ships and related improvements in Puerto Rico and Jacksonville will add speed and efficiency for our customers shipping goods between the mainland and the island,” said John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico services. “The environmentally friendly ships will replace tugs and triple-deck roll-on/roll-off barges currently sailing between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.”

Fueling the ships with LNG will reduce emissions significantly, including a 100 percent reduction in sulfur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM); a 92 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx); and a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) of more than 35 percent per container, compared with current fossil fuels.

Hourihan also noted the importance of the Jones Act as it relates to Crowley’s $550 million overall investment in the trade, saying, “the improvements we are making would not have been possible without the act.” 

The Jones Act requires vessels in domestic waterborne trades to be owned by American citizens, built in the U.S. and crewed by U.S. mariners, thereby supporting investment in maritime infrastructure and more than 500,000 jobs and $100 billion a year in annual economic output.

The other project milestones expected to be reached soon include:

• In San Juan, Crowley is scheduled to receive three new ship-to-shore gantry cranes, manufactured by Liebherr Container Cranes in Ireland, as early as Wednesday at the company’s Isla Grande Terminal. The cranes, which will be offloaded onto Crowley’s new 900-foot-long pier over several days, will be the first new specialized gantry cranes to be received for operation in San Juan Harbor in more than five decades.  

• In Jacksonville, two 260-ton cryogenic LNG tanks, constructed by Chart Industries in Europe, are expected to arrive at Crowley’s leased property at JaxPort’s Talleyrand Marine Terminal within a week. The facility, scheduled for completion this summer, will be adjacent to Crowley’s operating terminal and will serve as the fueling station for the LNG-powered ships.

In addition to the ships, cranes and tanks, Crowley’s $550 million investment includes a new 900-foot-long, 114-foot-wide concrete pier at Isla Grande and associated dredging needed to accommodate the two new ships; expanding terminal capacity for handling refrigerated containers; paving 15 acres to accommodate container stacking; adding containers and associated handling equipment to its fleet; installing a new electrical substation to provide power for the new gantry cranes; constructing a new seven-lane exit gate for increased efficiency; and installing hardware required for a new terminal operating software system.

By Professional Mariner Staff