On December 4, Taíno - the second ship under construction for Crowley's Commitment Class - was launched at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is one of the world's first combination container-roll-on/roll-off (ConRo) vessels powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Both Taíno and sister ship El Coquí will be manned in all licensed positions by members of American Maritime Officers in Jones Act service.
The launch marks the latest achievement in Crowley's transformation and modernization of its shipping and logistics services between Jacksonville, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The new ships, port terminal improvements and technology upgrades underway are all designed to improve the overall velocity of the customers' supply chains and speed products to retail shelves.
Taíno will now proceed through the final topside construction and testing phase before beginning service in the U.S. Jones Act trade in 2018. She will join, El Coquí, which was launched earlier in 2017 and is now in final testing prior to entering service in early 2018.
"Monday's launch represents another momentous achievement for the men and women at Crowley, VT Halter Marine and other partners, who have dedicated themselves to designing and building this pioneering ship as well as sister ship, El Coquí," said Tom Crowley, company chairman and CEO. "We appreciate their hard work, and look forward to putting these modern, environmentally-friendly ships into service for our customers and the people of Puerto Rico."
Construction of both El Coquí, which is named for the popular indigenous frog on the island, and Taíno, the name for native Puerto Ricans who lived off the land and who had great appreciation and respect for their environment, is being managed in the shipyard by Crowley's solutions group, which includes naval architects and engineers from company subsidiary Jensen Maritime.
Taíno, like El Coquí, will be able to transport up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) and a mix of nearly 400 cars and larger vehicles in the enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight RO/RO decks. A wide range of container sizes and types can be accommodated, ranging from 20-foot standard, to 53-foot by 102-inch-wide high-capacity units, as well as up to 300 refrigerated containers.
"The added speed and efficiency provided by these high-performing ships will 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."
Fueling the ships with LNG will reduce emissions significantly, including a 100-percent reduction in sulphur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM); a 92-percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx); and a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) of more than 35 percent per container, compared with current fossil fuels.
Monday's launch continues a series of milestones this year that have already enhanced Crowley's capabilities in Puerto Rico.
In San Juan, Crowley has begun operating three new ship-to-shore gantry cranes, manufactured by Liebherr Container Cranes, in Ireland, at Crowley's Isla Grande Terminal. 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 the 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 for increased speed and efficiency; implemented a new, modern terminal operating software system (TOS), and more.
The TOS in both San Juan and Jacksonville accelerate gate operations and reduce trucker turn times at the terminals by as much as 50 percent. When entering and leaving the terminal, truckers interact with Crowley workers via kiosks, which include communication handsets and cameras. Safety is improved because gate workers are no longer in the truck lanes, the operation has become paperless, and gate-lane transaction times have been reduced - all enhancing the velocity of customers' supply chains.
In Jacksonville, Crowley and Eagle LNG Partners also are completing final testing of the tanks and systems associated with the LNG Fuel Depot at JAXPORT's Talleyrand Marine Terminal, which will serve as the fueling station for the new ships. The depot features two 260-ton, cryogenic LNG tanks, constructed by Chart Industries in Europe.