Crowley christens LNG-powered <em>El Coqui</em>

   Crowley Maritime Corp. on Saturday christened its Commitment Class combination container and roll-on/roll-off ship El Coquí, which is among the first of its kind to be powered by liquefied natural gas. 
   Crowley said the ship is a key component in its supply chain transformation in the U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico trade.
   A crowd of more than 350 people, including White House officials, U.S. congressional members, local dignitaries, representatives from shipbuilder VT Halter Marine and Eagle LNG joined Crowley employees, vessel crew members and other industry and union representatives to celebrate christening. 
   As shown in this video, Christine Crowley, Crowley Board of Directors member and wife of Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley, served as sponsor, performing the tradition of breaking a champagne bottle over the hull of the 720-foot vessel at JAXPORT in Jacksonville, Fla.
   “It’s a culmination of many, many years of hard work, many, many years of transition for this company,” said Tom 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. And it’s here today.” 
   El Coquí, which arrived in San Juan on her maiden voyage July 30, is 219.5 meters long and 26,500 deadweight tons and able to transport up to 2,400 TEUs at a cruising speed of 22 knots. Within the ship is an enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight ro/ro deck that can protectively carry cars and larger vehicles. This type of shipboard garage is offered exclusively by Crowley in the trade, according to the company.
   The ship is the first of two vessels built as part of Crowley’s Commitment Class project. Sister ship Taíno is in the final phases of construction and testing at VT Halter Marine’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. She is expected to be delivered later this year.
   Alexander B. Gray, special assistant to the president for the Defense Industrial Base, said, “El Coqui represents not just the $3 billion investment that Crowley has made in this industry in recent years, it really is the future of the maritime industry itself.
   “The vessel is powered by liquefied natural gas. … It’s the cleanest fossil fuel available. It will serve as a shining example of the technological innovation that’s going to allow this industry to remain a global leader for decades to come.”
   The Jones Act ships are U.S. built, owned and crewed. They are part of Crowley’s $550 million investment under the Commitment Class project, modernizing its supply chain solutions serving diverse customer needs in Puerto Rico and including three new gantry cranes; a 900-foot pier; and an enhanced terminal operating system at the Isla Grande Terminal in San Juan. In Jacksonville, Crowley partner Eagle LNG constructed an LNG bunker fuel station to fuel the new ships that is among the first of its kind too, the company said.