Construction on Crowley’s two vessels powered by liquefied natural gas began today, with the first of the pair slated for delivery in second-quarter 2017 and the second expected later that year.
The vessels, which will be able to carry up to 2,400 20-foot equivalent units and nearly 400 vehicles, will replace triple-deck towed barges in the Jacksonville, Florida-based company’s U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico service. By using natural gas, the vessels will produce zero sulfur oxide and particulate matter emissions, and cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 92 percent. The fuel also significantly produces less carbon dioxide than conventional fuels.
“We have waited with great anticipation for the Commitment Class build program to start,” John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico/Caribbean liner services, said in a news release. “These new ships will embody superior technology and construction, and we are anxious to get them into service for our partners in Puerto Rico.”
The new ships, built in Pascagoula, Mississippi, by a subsidiary of VT Systems, will replace vessels that have served the Jones Act trade lane since the early 1970s. The new ships will have top speeds of 22 knots and will carry 20-foot to 53-foot containers, 102-inch wide units, along with vehicles in enclosed stowage spaces. They will be 219.5 meters (about 720 feet) long, with a beam of 32.3 meters and a draft of 10.0 meters. Approximate deadweight capacity will be 26,500 metric tons.
This is Crowley’s latest in a series of investments in LNG-fueled ships by Jones Act carriers. TOTE and Matson have ordered LNG-powered ships for their Puerto Rico and Hawaii services. Horizon Lines also plans to convert two 33-year-old vessels from steam to LNG power.