Maritime shipping company Crowley has 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., of Pascagoula, Miss., to build two of the world’s first LNG-powered ConRo ships, which are designed to travel at speeds up to 22 knots and carry containers ranging in size from 20-foot standard to 53-foot-long, 102-inch-wide, high-capacity units, along with hundreds of vehicles in enclosed, weather-tight car decking.
The Commitment-Class, Jones Act ships, scheduled for delivery in second and fourth quarter 2017, will replace Crowley’s towed triple-deck barge fleet, which has served the trade route since the early 1970s. These new ships, which will be named “El Coquí” and “Taíno,” will offer customers fast ocean transit times, while accommodating the company’s diverse equipment selection and cargo handling flexibility it has offered for nearly 60 years.
“VT Halter Marine is pleased and excited about the award of this contract as we continue our longstanding relationship with Crowley. The start of these new LNG ConRo ships is a culmination of a lengthy pre-contract engineering and approval cycle, allowing both companies to better understand the complexity of LNG power, which results in a ship that fits exactly to Crowley requirements from the start,” said Bill Skinner, CEO of VT Halter Marine.
“This contract signifies how important the Jones Act is to our U.S. operators, shipyards, the support network of suppliers, vendors, and subcontractors which keep Americans employed in the marine industry,” he said.
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 sulphur oxide and particulate matter, and a 92 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide . LNG also has the ability to significantly reduce carbon dioxide (CO2), a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, as compared with conventional fossil fuels.
“Our investment in these new ships — the first of their kind in the world — is significant on so many fronts,” said Crowley Chairman Tom Crowley. “We named them the Commitment Class of ships because they represent our commitment to our customers and the people of Puerto Rico whom we will continue to serve for years to come with the superior service they expect from Crowley.”
“Second, it reflects Crowley’s commitment to EcoStewardship in that we are developing and using best-available technology that allows for improved emissions, advanced ballast water management and alternative fuel selection,” he said.
“And lastly, our actions are clear evidence of our commitment to the U.S. maritime industry and the Jones Act. American built, crewed and owned ensures U.S. shipbuilding capabilities, skilled U.S. merchant seamen, and available domestic vessel tonnage, all of which are of vital importance to our national defense” he said.
Warstila Ship Design did by the vessel design in conjunction with Crowley subsidiary Jensen Maritime. The new double-hulled ConRo ships have been designed to maximize the carriage of 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 tons. Cargo capacity will be approximately 2,400 TEUs (20-foot-equivalent-units), with additional space for nearly 400 vehicles. The main propulsion and auxiliary engines will be fueled with LNG.
Jensen will also provide construction management and supervision in the shipyard throughout the building phase.
“When we sat down with Jensen and Wartsila to design these ships, we started with a clean slate to address and incorporate the specific needs of the Puerto Rico market,” said John Hourihan, senior vice president of Puerto Rico and Caribbean services. “We are very excited to add faster transit times to our existing service offerings while maintaining our ability to handle 53-foot and refrigerated equipment that so many of our customers have come to rely on.”
“We also understand what our car customers want, so we are pleased that these vessels will be the only ones in the trade to offer vehicle transportation in completely-enclosed, ventilated, weather-tight decks,” he said. “Coupled with the LNG fuel, customers can take satisfaction they are getting faster, more reliable service, while reducing the amount of CO2 emissions attributable to each container by approximately 38 percent. This design is a win-win for the customer and for the environment.”