Less than a week after disclosing plans to invest new vessels to serve the Puerto Rico route, maritime shipper Crowley and the Gov. García-Padilla administration announced Tuesday the company’s plans to turn the island into its export hub for the Caribbean.
The company’s expansion is the direct result of a new agreement between Crowley and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, which will shore up $20.7 million in income for the public corporation over the next 30 years.
“Today we are celebrating the expansion of Crowley’s business operations in Puerto Rico, an important announcement which means an additional step in our journey to increase trade and move the economy further along,” said García-Padilla during a press conference at La Fortaleza press after meeting with Tom Crowley, president of the shipping company.
As part of the expansion, Crowley will use the port of San Juan as a transshipment point to transfer goods brought from the port of Jacksonville to smaller vessels for distribution to various Caribbean ports. As a result, its cargo volume at the port of San Juan will increase to approximately 10,000 containers per year, up about 15 percent.
Last week, Crowley announced it had placed an order for two faster and environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered, combination container — Roll-On/Roll-Off (ConRo) ships that will be used to serve the U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico route. The company signed a $350 million contract with VT Halter Marine Inc. for the project.
Crowley has 298 employees in Puerto Rico and will create 100 new direct jobs to work for the new expanded operation.
Crowley chose the port of San Juan for this expansion over other Caribbean locations due to Puerto Rico’s market stability, the governor said.
The maritime shipper is considering investing another $58 million to improve its infrastructure at the port of San Juan, which would prompt the creation of 75 jobs during the construction phase.