Maersk, Crowley, MSC Bring in New Tonnage

 

June 2013

 

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America’s sealift capability and its domestic and international shipping resources each got a boost as new tonnage recently entered the Seafarers-contracted fleet.

 

Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) early last month flagged in the first of eight containerships – the Maersk Chicago – that will replace eight older, smaller vessels. The company also added the research ship USNS Maury, christened in late March at VT Halter Marine in Moss Point, Miss.

 

In another major maritime development, Crowley Maritime on May 3 christened its seventeenth articulated tug-barge (ATB), the Liberty/750-3. The ceremony took place at Halter’s facility in Pascagoula, Miss. The tugboat and 330,000-barrel petroleum tank barge are the final ones to be built in a more than $1 billion, decade-long ATB construction program undertaken by Crowley to expand the company’s presence in the Jones Act trade.

 

On April 22, the Navy’s joint high-speed vessel USNS Millinocket was christened at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. It’s the third in a planned fleet of 10 such vessels, and will be crewed in the unlicensed positions by members of the SIU Government Services Division.

 

More recently, the Navy on May 14 accepted delivery of the mobile landing platform vessel USNS Montford Point, which will be operated by Seafarers-contracted Ocean Ships. According to the Navy, the mobile landing platform is “a new class of ship and highly flexible platform that will provide capability for large-scale logistics movements such as the transfer of light and heavy vehicles and equipment from sea to shore.”

 

While most of the recent news has been positive when it comes to tonnage, APL announced its plans to scrap four older American-flag containerships – the President Adams, President Jackson, President Polk and President Truman. The SIU represents steward department mariners on APL ships.

 

In announcing its upgrade of container vessels, MLL said the newer tonnage will improve “services provided to its U.S. military, government and commercial customers. MLL’s investment of approximately half a billion dollars in eight vessels will improve the quality of service to the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea from the U.S. East Coast. Since 2000, MLL has invested over $1.75 billion dollars to modernize its fleet in support of the U.S. government and military. The vessels are about 10 years younger than the outgoing ships, offering improved fuel efficiency and environmental performance.”

 

“These eight newer vessels, along with the global transportation network that connects them, demonstrate our commitment to our customers. We are proud to serve the U.S. military and to deliver U.S. food aid worldwide,” said John Reinhart, MLL’s president and CEO. “MLL is focused on continual improvement, and these ships will further increase reliability and shrink our environmental footprint.”

 

All eight vessels will join the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA).

 

For Crowley, the company’s newest ATB punctuated a successful milestone in an effective construction program.

 

“We set out to offer customers the safest, most reliable petroleum transportation services many years ago by pairing our operational expertise with these safe and innovative vessels,” said Tom Crowley Jr., company chairman and CEO. “It fills us with great pride and satisfaction to see our vision come to fruition, and to deliver for our customers.”

 

More than 70 guests, including vessel crew members, representatives from VT Halter Marine and Marathon Petroleum joined Crowley for the christening, which included the time-honored tradition of breaking a champagne bottle over the hull of each vessel. Crowley’s Vice President of Procurement Wendy MacDonald had the honor of christening the tug, Liberty, while Marathon Representative Kathleen Peiffer christened the barge, 750-3.

 

In recent months Crowley has also added two U.S.-flag, 330-000-barrel product tankers to its petroleum fleet (both crewed by SIU members).

 

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