SIU Participates in Historic Christening


May 2015


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SIU officials were on hand April 18 for the historic christening of TOTE’s LNG-powered, Seafarers-contracted containership Isla Bella in San Diego – and Sophie Sacco, the wife of SIU President Michael Sacco, served as the vessel’s sponsor.


Among the SIU officials who attended the ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO were President Sacco and Vice President West Coast Nick Marrone.


More than 3,400 gathered to watch the launch of the 764-foot-long ship. Vessel owner TOTE, in partnership with General Dynamics NASSCO, celebrated the completion of the first of two Marlin Class containerships headed to Puerto Rico later this year.


According to TOTE, the use of LNG as a marine fuel in the U.S. defines a major shift for the industry. That use is expected to prove very beneficial for the environment.


In his remarks at the ceremony, Anthony Chiarello, president and CEO of TOTE noted, “Building the Marlins has been about change as well as bold and innovative thinking. NASSCO and our other partners have enabled us to build these ships that reflect our commitment to the environment and doing what is right.”


U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California), chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, provided the keynote address. “America’s maritime industry is critical not just for the economic benefits, but for national security purposes as well,” he said. “With the launch of the world’s first natural gas-powered containership, NASSCO and TOTE prove that American shipbuilders and American ships can lead the industry in innovation, and it is my hope that American shipbuilders and operators can continue to build upon this success.”


Gen. Paul Selva, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, also spoke. “This first Marlin Class ship exemplifies the technology and innovation that the United States is known for,” he said. “It also highlights the commitment of companies like TOTE to supporting the U.S. military and maritime sector that is vitally important to our national defense.”


“The launch of the Isla Bella signals a very significant milestone for the thousands of men and women at NASSCO,” said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO (a union shipyard). “Not only does it commemorate NASSCO’s 100th ship launch, it validates NASSCO’s capability to break new ground in green ship technology and lead in the design, construction, and conversion of ships to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of LNG.”


The chairman of Saltchuk, TOTE’s parent company, Mark Tabbutt thanked the many partners who worked on the new generation of containership: “We especially want to thank the hundreds of men and women that did the real work – the welding, the piping, the lifting, the planning, the electrical, the designing, the logistics, the painting, and all the other work that went into making these ships a reality.” He went on to recognize the support of the U.S. Maritime Administration and NASSCO for their long-term partnership.


The ship’s name, Isla Bella, was selected from a contest hosted in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico. Isla Bella translates to beautiful island in English and will serve as a reminder of the cultural and economic significance of the ships for future generations.


The Isla Bella will enter service in the fourth quarter of 2015 between Jacksonville, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The second Marlin Class vessel will be launched in the third quarter of 2015 and will enter service in the first quarter of 2016.


Visit our Facebook page and the image gallery section of the SIU website for additional photos from the christening.




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