SIU members are sailing aboard a new addition to the Seafarers-contracted fleet.
Crowley Maritime in late July took delivery of the El Coqui, one of the world’s first combination container/roll-on roll-off (ConRo) ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Less than two weeks later, an SIU crew helped complete the vessel’s successful maiden voyage as the ship delivered cargo from Jacksonville, Florida, to Crowley’s modernized Isla Grande Terminal in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“The SIU is excited about this brand-new ship, which will sail in the Jones Act trade,” stated SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker. “I’m confident that the SIU crew will continue to demonstrate their usual outstanding professionalism. It’s also worth pointing out that new ships like the El Coqui help boost America’s national, economic and homeland security.”
Among the Seafarers comprising the El Coqui’s first crew were Recertified Bosun Abel Vazquez Torres, ABs Victor Cortes Maldonado, Julio Perez, Kemer Rojas, Richard ScalesJohn Telles and Manuel Rodriguez Maldonado, Electrician Rodney Passapera- Barbosa, QMEDs Hector Ginel and Christian Rosado, Oiler Edwin Velez, Recertified Steward Kimberly Strate, Chief Cook Bryan Alvarez, and SA La’sonia Randolph.
Built at VT Halter Marine Inc., the El Coqui is the first of two Commitment Class ships being constructed for Crowley’s shipping and logistics services between Jacksonville and San Juan. Construction of sister ship Taino is well underway at VT Halter Marine’s facility in Pascagoula, Mississippi; that vessel is scheduled to enter service later this year.
The new vessels are 720 feet in length, 26,500 deadweight tons (DWT), and will be able to transport up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) at a cruising speed of 22 knots. According to Crowley, “A wide range of container sizes and types will be accommodated, including 53-foot by 102-inch-wide, high-capacity containers, up to 300 refrigerated containers, and a mix of about 400 cars and larger vehicles in the enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight Ro/ Ro decks. This type of shipboard garage is offered exclusively by Crowley in the trade.”
Following the acquisition of the El Coqui (named for the popular indigenous frog in Puerto Rico), Crowley Maritime Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley stated, “This delivery represents another milestone in our unwavering commitment to Puerto Rico and the Jones Act. We have dedicated significant time, effort and more than $550 million, which includes these new ships, to transform our Puerto Rico shipping and logistics services to world-class standards. We thank the men and women at Crowley, VT Halter Marine and other partners, who have dedicated themselves to bringing this magnificent new ship to life.”
Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America, added, “This is a thrilling time for the U.S. shipbuilding industry, as evolutions in LNG technology are providing a historic opportunity for American yards and the supporting industrial base to design, build and outfit some of the most technically advanced and environmentally friendly vessels that are the envy of the world. American skill and ingenuity, as well as critical laws like the Jones Act, serve as the backbone of our industry and embolden innovation and investment in domestic shipbuilding. El Coqui is a shining example of the work being done each day in our industry, and we are proud to support her, her crew and those who built her….”
The Jones Act is a federal law that regulates maritime commerce in the United States. The Jones Act requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on vessels that are crewed, built, owned and operated by United States citizens or permanent residents. Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the law is vitally important to maintaining a strong U.S. maritime capability.
Besides full loads of dry containers, the El Coqui’s inaugural cargo also included various equipment and automobiles, trucks and SUVs, as well as refrigerated containers for produce.
“We have eagerly anticipated this initial port call for some time now, and very much look forward to the added speed and efficiency that this high-performing ship will add to our customers’ supply chains,” said Frank Larkin, Crowley’s senior vice president and general manager, logistics and commercial services. “The ship’s reduced transit time complements major investments in technology and other infrastructure upgrades to our terminals that make it easier and quicker for our trucking partners to access our terminals for cargo moves. We’ve also evolved our warehouse operations to bring greater efficiencies all the way through to final mile deliveries. We’ve created greater speed to market all the way around.”
“This momentous occasion marks yet another milestone in our historic Commitment Class project, which ultimately offers shippers faster and more efficient logistics services that will match the needs of consumers and businesses in Puerto Rico,” said Jose “Pache” Ayala, vice president, Crowley Puerto Rico services, in San Juan.
The company reported that fueling the ships with LNG “will reduce emissions significantly, including a 100-percent reduction in sulphur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM); a 92-percent reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx); and a reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) of more than 35 percent per container, compared with current fossil fuels. Working with Eagle LNG Partners, the ships will be bunkered from a shoreside fuel depot at JAXPORT.”