Crowley Maritime Corp. has announced the launch of its first Commitment-class ship the El Coquí, one of the world’s first combination container/roll-on/roll-off (ConRo) ships powered by liquefied natural gas.
The launch took place Monday at VT Halter Marine’s facility in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where the two Commitment-class ships are being built. Construction of the ships is part of Crowley’s $550 million project to expand and modernize the company’s shipping and logistics services between Jacksonville, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
El Coquí, like her sister ship Taíno, will be able to transport up to 2,400 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 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 ship launch also marks the beginning of a very momentous week for Crowley and our Commitment Class project,” said Tom Crowley, company chairman and CEO. “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, Florida. Altogether, these investments epitomize 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.”
A video of the launch is below:
El Coquí 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.
John Hourihan, senior vice president and manager for Crowley’s Puerto Rico services, 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 other project milestones in the pipeline include the arrival of three new, ship-to-shore gantry cranes, manufactured by Liebherr Container Cranes, in Ireland, as early as Wednesday at Crowley’s Isla Grande Terminal, which the company has operated since 1954. The cranes will be offloaded onto a new 900-foot-long pier at the 85-acre terminal over several days. Also 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, state-of-the-art terminal operating software system, among other things.
“The ships, terminal and bunkering facility represent next-generation technology built for high performance and dependable service for our customers,” said Crowley’s Tucker Gilliam, vice president for special projects.