Maritime Partners Buys More Than 1,000 Inland Vessels in One Deal
Louisiana-based towboat and barge owner Maritime Partners has purchased the 1000-plus vessel fleet of J. Russell Flowers, making it the largest non-operating owner of inland marine equipment in the United States.
The deal covers a wide portfolio of over 1,000 vessels operating on bareboat charter, including towboats, tank barges, hopper barges and deck barges. With the acquisition, Maritime Partners' fleet has grown to about 1,600 inland vessels, and its combined fair market value is in the range of $1.2 billion.
Credit Suisse provided Maritime Partners with debt financing and served as the sole lender for the transaction.
"Six years ago we established a vision to become the leading equipment provider to the domestic marine industry. This acquisition represents the culmination of our vision. We are excited to continue to partner with the Jones Act operator community to serve as a provider of flexible vessel financing solutions," said Austin Sperry, co-founder and COO of Maritime Partners.
Maritime Partners is also expanding into a new frontier of maritime operations. In partnership with ABB, E1 Marine and Elliott Bay Design Group, the firm is designing and building the world's first methanol-fueled, hydrogen fuel cell-powered towboat. The system delivers about 550 miles of transit distance - enough for about four days of travel - for a typical towboat running at normal speeds. This is far more range than what a towboat could achieve with battery-electric propulsion, and it may well be the only practical decarbonization solution for inland towing on the market, according to EBDG.
"The US towboat market is one of the most traditional in the world, so it's important to recognise what this represents: the first step in a shift from diesel electric to methanol electric, and a major advancement towards zero emissions," said David Lee of ABB Marine & Ports.