Crowley Christens LNG-Powered El Coquí for Jones Act Trade

crowley maritime el coqui
Photo: Crowley Maritime Corp.

Crowley Maritime Corp. christened its LNG-powered combination container/roll on-roll off ship El Coquí at the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday.

El Coquí is among the first of its kind to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a key of Crowley’s supply chain transformation on the U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico Jones Act trade.

The ship delivered its first cargo from Jacksonville, Florida to the Crowley’s Isla Grande Terminal in San Juan, Puerto Rico on July 20th, kicking off its regular shipping service connecting the U.S. mainland with Puerto Rico.

El Coquí is 219.5 meters (720 feet), 26,500 deadweight tons (DWT), and able to transport up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) at a cruising speed of 22 knots. The ship can accommodate containers in a wide range of sizes and types – including 53-foot by 102-inch-wide, high-capacity containers and refrigerated containers. Within the ship is an enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight Ro/Ro deck that can protectively carry cars and larger vehicles – a type of garage offered exclusively by Crowley in the trade.

The ship is the first of two vessels built as part of Crowley’s Commitment Class project. Her sister ship Taíno is in the final phases of construction and testing at VT Halter Marine’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where the El Coquí was also built. The Taíno is expected to be delivered later this year.

More than 350 people were on hand over the weekend to celebrate El Coquí’s christening, including White House officials; U.S. congressional members; local officials; representatives from ship builder, VT Halter Marine, and Eagle LNG joined Crowley employees, vessel crew members and other industry and union representatives.

Crowley’s Christine Crowley, who is a Member of Crowley’s board and spouse of Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley, served as sponsor and performed the tradition of breaking a champagne bottle over the hull of the 720-foot vessel.

“It’s a culmination of many, many years of hard work, many, many years of transition for this company,” said Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley.

“It’s remarkable to see the transition. Whether it’s going from Ro/Ro to Lo/Lo, the LNG fuel, putting a car house on the back of a container ship, you name it, you go through the transition of what we did to build a ship and create a supply chain that nobody else can match. And it’s here today,” added Crowley.

Offering remarks at the christening, Alexander Gray, who is Special Assistant to the President for the Defense Industrial Base, lauded the commitment by Crowley and U.S. maritime industry to lead an innovative new era of maritime and supply chain services that support economic and national security.

“El Coqui represents not just the $3 billion investment that Crowley has made in this industry in recent years, it really is the future of the maritime industry itself,” Gray said. “The vessel is powered by liquefied natural gas … it’s the cleanest fossil fuel available. It will serve as a shining example of the technological innovation that’s going to allow this industry to remain a global leader for decades to come.”

The El Coqui and Taíno are part of Crowley’s $550 million investment under the Commitment Class modernization, which also includes three new gantry cranes; a new 900-foot pier; and an enhanced terminal operating system at the Isla Grande Terminal in San Juan.

In Jacksonville, Crowley partner Eagle LNG constructed an LNG bunker fuel station to fuel the new ships that is among the first of its kind, too.

“Many people may talk about amending the Jones Act or taking it away, but they’re not living on the island,” said Rep. González-Colón. “And they don’t need that supply on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, and have it reliable like we receive it today – and that’s the reason I support the Jones Act.”