On the occasion of the christening of El Coquí on October 20 in Jacksonville, Fla., White House Special Assistant for the Defense Industrial Base Alexander Gray said Crowley's newest ship is a symbol of the company's commitment to Puerto Rico, and a testament to America's commitment to the Jones Act.
"To remain a global leader, the United States must have a thriving industry in areas of core national power. The maritime sector is the perfect example of an industry whose success is inseparable from the economic prosperity and the national security of the United States," Gray said.
"The Jones Act gives an essential boost to an industry that is critical to our country's future. We at the White House have this industry's back and will continue to do so."
Gray's was one of several presentations at the christening ceremony for the LNG-powered ship focusing on the important roles served by the Jones Act.
Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL) pointed out the Jones Act is at the foundation of innovation in the U.S. maritime industry. Without the cornerstone cabotage law, El Coquí and other advances in shipping technology may not have come to fruition.
"We are seeing American innovation at its best. The Jones Act makes sure that we are positioned to make this possible. The Jones Act makes sure that American commerce operates with American vessels and American workers, and that's something I have strongly advocated to protect since my first days in Congress and I will continue to protect and fight for the Jones Act," Rutherford said.
"The American maritime industry is strong today because of the Jones Act and what it provides. It is because of the Jones Act that we have a maritime industrial base to support our military and national security needs. That can't be stated strongly enough."
El Coquí and sister ship, Taíno, which recently completed sea trials, will serve in the Jones Act Puerto Rico trade, moving a wide variety of cargo between Jacksonville and San Juan. The combination container and roll-on/roll-off ships form Crowley's Commitment Class, and can accommodate containers in a wide range of sizes and types. Each has an enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight RO/RO deck that can protectively carry cars and larger vehicles.
El Coquí made its maiden voyage to Puerto Rico in July, marking a new era for Crowley, said Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley. The Commitment Class ships are a turning point in the company's history and utilize cleaner, more efficient and environmentally-friendly fuels.
"We've served Puerto Rico for 60 years and this will ensure that we continue to serve the island for many years to come," Crowley said. "Many people are talking about using LNG fuel but there are very few who are implementing it, and this is one of the first and most sophisticated LNG supply systems in the world. We have really set the stage for the globe on how to do it. We are blazing a new trail."