Crowley Christens First LNG-Fueled Con/Ro
On Saturday, Crowley Maritime christened its new LNG-fueled con/ro for the Puerto Rico trade, the 26,000 dwt El Coqui. The VT Halter-built ship and her sister, the Taino, complement Crowley's long-running barge service to San Juan with a new high-speed option.
The christening ceremony was a major event for the U.S. maritime industry, and its significance was reflected in the list of attendees. The crowd of 350 at the Jaxport Cruise Terminal included White House officials; members of Congress; and representatives from VT Halter and from Crowley's bunker supplier, Eagle LNG.
Speakers included chairman and CEO Tom Crowley; Alexander B. Gray, Special Assistant to the President for the Defense Industrial Base; Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico, the island territory's representative to Congress; Congressmen John Rutherford and Ted Yoho of Florida; and Augustin "Augie" Tellez, EVP of the Seafarers International Union. Crowley board member Christine Crowley, Tom Crowley's spouse, served as the ship's sponsor.
“It’s a culmination of many, many years of hard work, many, many years of transition for this company,” said Mr. Crowley. “It’s remarkable to see the transition. Whether it’s going from Ro/Ro to Lo/Lo, the LNG fuel, putting a car house on the back of a container ship, you name it, you go through the transition of what we did to build a ship and create a supply chain that nobody else can match."
Crowley has served Puerto Rico since 1954, longer than any other U.S. shipping company. The two new vessels are part of a $550 million investment in its Jacksonville-San Juan route, including $130 million for terminal upgrades in Puerto Rico.
El Coquí is a sub-Panamax container ship and ro-ro combined into one vessel, and is among the first of her kind to be powered by LNG. She has a cruising speed of 22 knots, and she can carry about 2,400 TEU, including the 53-foot high-capacity containers that are common in the Puerto Rico trade. Within the ship is an enclosed ro/ro deck that can carry up to 400 cars and larger vehicles, making her the only remaining vessel with enclosed car decks on the route. She entered service in July.