San Juan dock expansion to handle Crowley's LNG ships begins

San Juan dock expansion to handle Crowley's LNG ships begins

Crowley Puerto Rico Services has begun construction on a 900-foot pier at its Isla Grande Terminal in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to accommodate two liquefied natural gas-powered cargo ships the carrier will put into operation in 2017.

The $48.5 million dock is part of a terminal expansion that includes three new ship-to-shore gantry cranes that will be supplied under a separate contract.

The expanded terminal will serve container/roll-on, roll-off ships that replace towed multideck barges that Crowley now operates between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico. The new ships, being built by VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi, will carry up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent units of containers and nearly 400 vehicles.

Crowley is the largest carrier in the Jones Act domestic trade, where the company’s main competitors are TOTE Maritime and Trailer Bridge.

Crowley said the new dock, ships and other improvements represent nearly $500 million in investment in the company’s Puerto Rico service.

“This investment, which is resulting in jobs, economic impact, a cleaner environment and significant service enhancements for Puerto Rico shippers, would not be possible without the Jones Act,” Crowley said. The Jones Act requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flag ships constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Other carriers in the U.S. domestic Jones Act trade also are introducing LNG-fueled ships. TOTE Inc. in August launched the second of two 3,100-TEU ships that Sea Star Line will operate in the Puerto Rico trade. TOTE is converting two diesel vessels to use LNG in the Alaska trade. Matson is building dual-fuel ships that can operate on low-sulfur diesel or LNG for its Hawaii service.

IHS Maritime & Trade, in which is part of, reports that more than 40 container ships that are LNG-fueled or LNG-ready have been ordered or are under construction worldwide. United Arab Shipping Co. is building 10 large container ships that can be adapted to run on LNG. MOL also is building ships that can be converted to LNG operation.