VT Halter Marine on Wednesday morning cut the first steel on the second of two liquefied natural gas-powered, combination container and Roll-On/Roll-Off (ConRo) ships for Crowley Maritime Corp.’s liner services group.
VT Halter Marine and Crowley entered into a contract for the pair of ships, known as the Commitment Class, in November 2013. Construction on the first ConRo, El Coquí, began in October 2014. Construction of the second kicked off Tuesday morning with the first steel plate cut during a ceremony at VT Halter’s Pascagoula, Mississippi.
“This is a momentous occasion in the history of the company and in the Commitment Class build program,” said John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico liner services. “Like our customers, we have been waiting with great anticipation for construction to begin on the Taíno, and we look forward to the day in the near future that they will begin service between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico. These new ships embody superior technology, and will offer enhanced performance and safety while setting new standards for environmentally responsible shipping.”
“We are pleased and proud to be building these superb ships for Crowley. Crowley is an outstanding company and a leader in the industry and we are delighted to be partnering with them on these cutting edge vessels,” said Jack Prendergast, chief executive officer, VT Halter Marine.
The Commitment Class ships have been designed to maximize the carriage of 53-foot, 102-inch-wide containers, which offer the most cubic cargo capacity in the trade. The ships will be 219.5 meters long, 32.3 meter beam, have a deep draft of 10 meters, and an approximate deadweight capacity of 26,500 metric tonnes. Cargo capacity will be approximately 2,400 TEUs, with additional space for nearly 400 vehicles in an enclosed Ro/Ro garage. The main propulsion and auxiliary engines will be fueled by environmentally friendly LNG.
The ship design was provided by Wartsila Ship Design in conjunction with Crowley subsidiary Jensen Maritime, a leading Seattle-based naval architecture and marine engineering firm.
The Jones Act ships will replace Crowley’s towed triple-deck barge fleet, which has served the trade continuously and with distinction since the early 1970s. The new ships, named El Coquí (ko-kee) and Taíno (tahy-noh), will offer customers fast ocean transit times, while accommodating the company’s diverse equipment selection and cargo handling flexibility – benefits customers have enjoyed for over 60 years.
El Coquí and Taíno are scheduled for delivery second and fourth quarter 2017 respectively.
Crowley has served the Puerto Rico market since 1954. With more than 250 Puerto Rico employees, Crowley is also the No. 1 ocean carrier between the island commonwealth and the U.S. mainland with more weekly sailings and more cargo carried annually than any other shipping line.