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Crowley launches LNG-fuelled ConRo ship

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Crowley Maritime Corp. and VT Halter Marine have launched the LNG-fuelled Commitment Class vessel, El Coquí.

The vessel is one of the first combination ConRo ships to be powered by LNG in Pasacagoula, Mississippi, US, and is named after a frog native to the island. Topside construction and the testing phase will now proceed before the ship commences service in 2H17.

Launching the vessel was just one in a series of milestones expected to be achieved this week as part of Crowley’s US$550 million project to expand and modernise its shipping and logistics services between Jacksonville, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Chairman and CEO of Crowley, Tom Crowley, said: “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.

“We are extremely appreciative of all the work that has been accomplished so far and look forward to the successful delivery of El Coquí later this year and her sister ship, Taíno, 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.”

“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 litre cryogenic tanks at our LNG bunkering facility being built at the Port of Jacksonville, Fla. Altogether, these investments epitomise the strong, long-term commitment we have to serving our customers and the people of Puerto Rico with the most modern and efficient supply chain services in the trade.”

El Coquí – like its sister ship, Taíno – will be capable of transporting up to 2400 twenty-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 variety of container types can also be accommodated, ranging from standard 20 ft containers, to the 53 ft by 102 in. wide high capacity units, as well as up to 300 refrigerated units.

The CEO of VT Halter Marine, Paul J. Albert, said: “The launch of the El Coquí is a strong indication of our commitment to the success of our customer Crowley.

“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. This is a great accomplishment for both teams; we very much appreciate this opportunity to build such a magnificent ship for such a great company.”

The construction of both vessels is being managed by Crowley Marine Solutions, which includes naval architecture and marine engineering subsidiary, Jensen Maritime.

The Senior Vice President and General Manager, Puerto Rico services, John Hourihan, said: “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.

“The environmentally friendly ships will replace tugs and triple-deck Roll-on/Roll-off barges currently sailing between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.”

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

In the statement, Crowley also noted that it is scheduled to receive three new ship-to-shore gantry trains built by Ireland’s Liebherr Container Cranes imminently. These will be delivered to the company’s Isla Grande Terminal, and will be offloaded onto Crowley’s new 900 ft pier over several days. They will be the first new, specialised gantry trains received for operation in San Juan Harbor in over five decades.

In addition to this, Crowley is expecting to receive two 260 t Chart-built cryogenic LNG tanks at its leased property at JAXPORT’s Talleyrand Marine Terminal within a week. The facility, which is scheduled for completion in the summer, will be adjacent to Crowley’s operating terminal, serving as the fuelling station for LNG-fuelled vessels.

In addition to the cranes, tanks and vessels, the company’s US$550 million investment includes the aforementioned 900 ft long, 114 ft wide concrete pier at Isla Grande, as well as the related dredging necessary to accommodate the two new vessels. The investment also includes increasing the 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; building a new seven-lane exit gate to increase efficiency; installing hardware necessary for a new state-of-the-art terminal operating software system, etc.

Tucker Gilliam, Crowley Vice President, Special Projects, said: “The ships, terminal and bunkering facility represent next-generation technology built for high performance and dependable service for our customers.”

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