At least two new ships – and possibly as many as five – are on the horizon following last month’s announcement by SIU-contracted TOTE, Inc., that the company has ordered construction of LNG-powered containerships.
Believed to be the first of their kind, the vessels reportedly will operate in TOTE’s SIU-crewed Sea Star Line service between Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland. They’re slated for construction at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego (a yard that employs union members and whose president is a former union mariner). The contract calls for two vessels and includes options for three more.
When completed, the 764-foot-long containerships are expected to be the largest ships of any type in the world primarily powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Construction of the first containership is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2014, with delivery by the fourth quarter of 2015; the second ship is slated for delivery in the first quarter of 2016.
According to NASSCO, the ships will be designed by DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), located in Busan, South Korea. NASSCO has successfully partnered with DSEC previously for the design and construction of five Stateclass product tankers which currently operate in the U.S. Jones Act market with SIU crews.
Anthony Chiarello, president and CEO of TOTE said, “This investment demonstrates our commitment to the people of Puerto Rico and our environment. These vessels mark a new age of shipping using the best technology in the world.”
The company said each new ship will have capacity of 3,100 20-foot-equivalent units.
“This project breaks new ground in green ship technology,” said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “It adds to our design and production capabilities and validates our reputation as one of the nation’s leading shipyards for commercial and government new-construction shipbuilding. Securing this contract has been a real team effort and will help sustain the jobs of the talented skilled tradesmen and women in our workforce.”
The shipyard’s announcement indicated the vessels “will operate on either fuel oil or gas derived from LNG, which will significantly decrease emissions while increasing fuel efficiency as compared to conventionally powered ships. The LNG-powered containerships will also include a ballast water treatment system, making them the greenest ships of their size in the world.” Last summer, TOTE reported plans to modify two of its roll-on/roll-off ships to also run on LNG.