SIU members are sailing aboard the new Crowley Maritime vessel MV Taíno following the Jones Act ship’s delivery late last year.
The second of the company’s new combination container/roll-on roll-off (ConRo) ships, the Taíno completed its maiden voyage to Puerto Rico on Jan. 11.
“Things are going well,” said Recertified Bosun Wilfredo Velez the day the liquified natural gas-powered vessel arrived in the commonwealth. “We have a good crew, and it’s smooth sailing so far. I like the run and the ship. Life is good, man!”
Crowley hailed the maiden voyage as putting “a historic capstone on the company’s Commitment Class modernization project and begin[ing] a new era of world-class supply chain services between the island commonwealth, U.S. mainland and the Caribbean Basin.”
Like its sister ship, the MV El Coquí (which entered service in July 2018), the Taíno utilizes Jacksonville, Florida, as its mainland home port. Each ship is 720 feet long, 26,500 deadweight tons (DWT), and can transport up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) at a cruising speed of more than 22 knots. The ships carry a wide range of cargo types and sizes, including: 53-foot by 102-inch-wide, high-capacity containers; up to 300 refrigerated containers; and 400 cars and larger vehicles in the enclosed and ventilated vehicle garages that are unique to the trade.
The Taíno is named for the native Puerto Ricans who lived off the land with great appreciation and respect for their environment, and the El Coquí is named for the popular indigenous frog on the island. The vessels were constructed by VT Halter Marine at its Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyard.
When the Taíno was delivered, Crowley Maritime Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley stated, “I want to congratulate and thank all the men and women at Crowley and VT Halter Marine who helped to bring these marvelous new ships to life. They are shining examples of maritime innovation and craftsmanship available right here in the United States thanks to the Jones Act. From a business standpoint, Taíno and El Coquí are key components of our integrated logistics offerings that are bringing speed to market and creating a competitive advantage for our customers in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. With our own vessels and proprietary transportation and distribution network, we’re reducing friction and complexity while increasing the velocity of customers’ goods moving to market and reducing their landed costs.”
Modernizations by Crowley include the Commitment class vessels along with investments at Crowley’s Isla Grande Terminal in San Juan, including three new shore gantry cranes, the first to be delivered in Puerto Rico in 50 years; a new 900-foot pier; container handling equipment; and efficiency improvements. Additionally, a proprietary feeder service has been launched to seamlessly link Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic and other islands of the Caribbean Basin.
The first SIU crew aboard the Taíno included Velez, ABs Dominique Johnson, Emil Norales, Arthur Patterson, Julio Perez and Sonny Perez, QMEDs Sherrod Frazier and Victor Rios Lopez, QEE Carlos Parilla, Oiler Angel Cintron, Recertified Steward Kim Strate, Chief Cook Luis Perez Acosta and SA Steven Lopez Ferrer.