General Dynamics NASSCO reached a milestone in early June as the SIU-contracted tanker Palmetto State finished sea trials and was delivered to American Petroleum Tankers (APT) during a signing ceremony at the San Diego shipyard.
SIU members crewed up the Jones Act vessel – built by other union members at NASSCO – in late May and early June. Formally delivered on June 7, the Palmetto State is the last of eight ECO Class vessels built on the West Coast. Four of those ships were built for APT, while the other four were constructed for SEAVista, LLC. Each ship in the class is 610 feet long, 50,000 deadweight tons, LNGconversion- ready and has a cargo capacity of 330,000 barrels.
According to the shipyard, “The Palmetto State and its sister ships are the most environmentally friendly tankers to enter the Jones Act trade. The tankers’ ECO design offers 33 percent increased fuel efficiency and a corresponding reduction in ship emissions. In just under three years, NASSCO shipbuilders constructed and delivered all eight ECO tankers. During this time, the company achieved several first-time milestones, including a record throughput of 60,000 tons of steel per year and the delivery of six ships in 2016.”
“The ECO Class tanker program pushed us to develop more efficient planning and production techniques, and fundamentally improved the way we perform every day,” said Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “I credit the success of this program to the thousands of hardworking men and women who contributed to the design, construction and delivery of these ships. Their dedication to continuous improvement was demonstrated by the hull-to-hull learning we saw over the course of the ECO Class program. I also thank American Petroleum Tankers and SEA-Vista, LLC for their partnership and confidence in NASSCO.”
In the past decade, NASSCO delivered more than 30 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers – including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships, the SIU-crewed Isla Bella and Perla Del Caribe.
The initial crew of the Palmetto State included SIU members Recertified Bosun Robert Pagan, ABs Modival Cagaoan, Carlos Bonilla, William Carney, Angela Corbitt and James Davis, QEP William Mercer, OMU Ryan Cameron, Oiler Daquan Wallace, Recertified Steward Ronald Drew, Cook/Baker Carlos Diaz and SA Alberto Jose.
American’s freight cabotage law, the Jones Act, requires cargo moving between U.S. ports to be carried on vessels that are crewed, built, flagged and owned American. Stipulations such as these are not unique in the world, nor are they new to the United States (the Jones Act has been the law of the land for nearly a century). Cabotage principles in part are designed to guarantee the participation of a country’s citizens in its own domestic trade. These laws foster the development of a merchant marine and give preference to local labor and industry. More importantly, they support national security and protect the domestic economy.
According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Jones Act helps maintain nearly 500,000 American jobs (both shipboard and related shore-side positions) while contributing billions of dollars each year to the domestic economy. The law has always enjoyed strong bipartisan support, though it also regularly comes under attack, usually by foreign-flag interests.
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