Totem Ocean Trailer Express plans to convert two diesel-powered roll-on, roll-off ships to burn liquefied natural gas on TOTE’s service between the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
The company is converting its Orca-class ships under a Coast Guard waiver from Marpol Annex VI, which requires ships to burn low-sulfur fuel or LNG or use other measures within an emissions control area extending 200 nautical miles from the coast.
The ECA requirement took effect Aug. 1. TOTE’s waiver extends until September 2016. The company plans to perform the conversion at sea, without interruption to its service schedule.
Because the ships operate entirely within the emissions control area, converting them to LNG means the vessels will exceed regulatory compliance for the rest of their service lives.
After their conversion to LNG, the vessels will exceed the sulfur reduction goals of the ECA by 95 percent and achieve "significant emissions reductions" in particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide, the company said.
The ships, the Midnight Sun and North Star, were built in 2003. They carry up to 600 forty-foot-equivalent units of containers and 220 vehicles.
TOTE said it believes that this will be the first conversion in the world of vessels of this type. TOTE said shoreside LNG facilities that will be built to support its operations could also help other transportation industries in Puget Sound in converting to LNG.
TOTE’s conversion to cleaner-burning LNG drew praise from the Coalition for Responsible Transportation, representing importers, trucking companies and ocean carriers that have worked with ports to implement clean-air programs.
“The expansion of LNG technology to ocean vessels is truly a game-changer from an emission reduction perspective,” said CRT Chairman Rick Gabrielson, director of international transportation at Target Corp.