Crowley’s New LNG-Powered ConRo El Coquí Arrives in Puerto Rico for First Time

El Coquí arrives in Puerto Rico
El Coquí arrives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 30, 2018. Photo: Crowley Maritime Corp

Crowley Maritime Corp.’s new combination container/roll on-roll off “ConRo” ship El Coquí has delivered its first cargo from Jacksonville, Florida to the company’s Isla Grande Terminal in San Juan .

El Coquí, one of the world’s first ConRos powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), departed Jacksonville on Friday night and arrived in San Juan on Monday, completing the maiden voyage on its regular Jones Act shipping service connecting the U.S. mainland with Puerto Rico.

“Increasing supply chain velocity while reducing customers’ landed costs was the core reason for our $550 million investment in this important service,” said Tom Crowley, company chairman and CEO. “Bringing this new ship, and soon its sister ship, to reality is one of the final steps to making this vision a reality. It should be evident to all that our commitment to Puerto Rico could not be stronger.”

The El Coquí has a cruising speed of 22 knots and can carry about 2,400 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of 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 up to 400 cars and larger vehicles. This type of shipboard garage is offered exclusively by Crowley in the trade, enhancing supply chain solutions for customers. Besides full-loads of dry cargo containers, the inaugural cargo also included various equipment and automobiles, trucks and SUVs, as well as refrigerated “reefer” containers for produce.

“The diverse cargo carrying capabilities, as well as the ability to carry in-demand 53-foot containers, means that these high-performing ships will greatly benefit customers shipping goods between the mainland and the island,” said John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico services. “Cargo for businesses and consumers will be able to dependably reach markets at peak time, whether it is dry, refrigerated or breakbulk, such as vehicles and other rolling stock.”

The arrival of El Coquí is the latest in a series of milestones for Crowley in Puerto Rico.

In San Juan, Crowley is utilizing three new, ship-to-shore gantry cranes, at Crowley’s Isla Grande Terminal to add speed to vessel unloading. The cranes are the first new, specialized gantry cranes to be received for operation in San Juan Harbor in more than five decades. The cranes complement new 900-foot-long, 114-foot wide concrete pier at Isla Grande.

In addition, Crowley has expanded Isla Grande’s terminal capacity for handling refrigerated containers; paved 15 acres to accommodate container stacking; added containers and associated handling equipment to its fleet; installed a new electrical substation to provide power for the new gantry cranes; constructed a new seven-lane exit gate to increase speed and efficiency for trucking partners; and implemented a new, modern terminal operating software system (TOS) to modernize and enhance cargo deliveries and exchanges.

With the TOS in place, terminal employees now work from an indoor gate-control center, interacting with truck drivers from kiosks via communication handsets and cameras. This operation is also paperless, helping to further reduce gate-lane transaction times.

Crowley says this technology ultimately allows trucking partners to access and depart Crowley’s terminal faster, avoid costly penalties and make more trips per day, putting cargo into the hands of customers faster and more efficiently.

Crowley has served the Puerto Rico market from the 85-acre Isla Grande Terminal since 1954, longer than any other carrier in the trade. The company, with 300 Puerto Rico employees, offers more weekly sailings in the market than any other shipping line.