Three New Vessels Entering Jones Act Service


May 2017


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Two Tankers, One ConRo Signal New Jobs for SIU Members


The month of March ended with a flurry of news about tonnage entering the American- flag domestic fleet.


Three vessel launches – for the El Coqui, the Palmetto State and the American Freedom – mean new jobs for SIU members as well as state-of-the-art additions to the Jones Act fleet.


The El Coqui is a combination container and roll-on/roll-off (ConRo) ship built for Crowley Maritime at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi. It was launched March 21.


The Palmetto State and American Freedom are tankers constructed for American Petroleum Tankers (APT). The Palmetto State, built at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, was celebrated in a March 25 ceremony, while the American Freedom was welcomed March 29 at Philly Shipyard.


The LNG-powered El Coqui, slated to enter service in the second half of 2017, will now proceed through the final topside construction and testing phase, Crowley reported.

“This was a special day for Crowley, VT Halter Marine and all of the men and women who designed, and who are constructing, this world-class ship,” said Tom Crowley, company chairman and CEO. “We are extremely appreciative of all the work that has been accomplished so far and look forward to the successful delivery of El Coquí later this year and her sister ship, Taíno, in the first half of next year.”


The ships will be 720 feet long and 106 feet wide, and each able to transport up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) and a mix of nearly 400 cars and larger vehicles in the enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight Ro/Ro decks. A wide range of container sizes and types can be accommodated, ranging from 20-foot standard, to 53-foot by 102-inch-wide, high-capacity units, as well as up to 300 refrigerated containers, Crowley noted.


They will be able to travel at 22 knots and are planned for service between Puerto Rico and Jacksonville, Florida.


Meanwhile, the 610-foot-long Palmetto State is the final ship in an eight-vessel class built by NASSCO for APT.

U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-California) served as the principal speaker for the christening and launch. As the ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Linda Rankine christened the vessel with the traditional break of a champagne bottle on the tanker’s hull. She is the wife of Bill Rankine, manager of marine chartering and operations for CITGO. Thousands of shipbuilders, their family and friends, and members of the community attended the celebration.


The 50,000-dwt product carrier is LNG-conversion ready and will carry 330,000 barrels of cargo. With a specialized ECO design, the tankers are quite energy efficient and incorporate environmental protection features, including a ballast water treatment system, NASSCO reported.


Finally, Philly Shipyard (PSI) delivered the American Freedom, the second of four next-generation 50,000 dwt product tankers that it is building for APT. It’s the twenty-sixth vessel built by PSI.


“We are proud to deliver another vessel to our partners at American Petroleum Tankers,” remarked Steinar Nerbovik, Philly Shipyard’s president and CEO. “This vessel, like its predecessor, is delivered [on time], and with the same resolute focus on quality and safety that our customers depend on. On the cusp of the shipyard’s 20-year anniversary, we are proud of each and every one of our deliveries and honored to serve some of the very best owners in the U.S. maritime industry.”

The American Freedom is based on a proven Hyundai Mipo Dockyards (HMD) design that also incorporates numerous fuel efficiency features and flexible cargo capability while meeting the latest regulatory requirements, the shipyard reported. The vessel has received “LNG Ready Level 1” approval from the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). The 600-foot tanker has a carrying capacity of 14.5 million gallons of crude oil or refined products.


American’s freight cabotage law, the Jones Act, requires cargo moving between U.S. ports to be carried on vessels that are crewed, built, flagged and owned American. Stipulations such as these are not unique in the world, nor are they new to the United States (the Jones Act has been the law of the land for nearly a century). Cabotage principles in part are designed to guarantee the participation of a country’s citizens in its own domestic trade. These laws foster the development of a merchant marine and give preference to local labor and industry. More importantly, they support national security and protect the domestic economy.


According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Jones Act helps maintain nearly 500,000 American jobs (both shipboard and related shore-side positions) while contributing billions of dollars each year to the domestic economy. The law has always enjoyed strong bipartisan support, though it also regularly comes under attack, usually by foreign-flag interests.



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