Fireworks marked the first cut of steel in a ceremony as construction of TOTE, Inc.’s new Marlin class, the first liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered containership in the world, began at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California.
“These ships will be the most advanced, environmentally progressive vessels of their kind,” Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, said, “but they also represent $350 million in U.S. investment, 600 American shipyard jobs, and the bright future of the indispensable domestic maritime industry.”
The Marlin class vessels mark a new age in American shipbuilding. TOTE’s back-to-back announcements in 2012 – converting its existing RO/RO fleet in Alaska and investing in new containerships for the Puerto Rico trade – began what can only be described as a change of tide in the U.S. maritime industry toward LNG as the new maritime fuel.
Clean-burning, LNG offers unmatched environmental benefits, reducing emissions below even the world’s most stringent standards. The new Marlin class will create a reduction of sulfur dioxide (SOx) emissions by 98 percent, particulate matter (PM) by 99 percent, nitrous oxide (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) by 71 percent over TOTE’s ships currently operating in Puerto Rico.
“The move to LNG fuel is no less significant than the evolution from sail to steam,” said Mark Tabbutt, Chairman of Saltchuk, TOTE’s parent company. “The Marlins represent the start of a new age in American maritime.”
Speakers at the event included Representative Duncan Hunter; Acting Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen; Chairman of Saltchuk, TOTE’s parent company, Mark Tabbutt; and Kevin Graney, General Manager of the NASSCO shipyard.
“We are excited to begin construction of the lead ship on this historic project,” said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. “All of the stakeholders on this first-of-a-kind program, including NASSCO, our Korean partners DSEC, TOTE, ABS, and the USCG, are completely focused on its success. We are beginning construction at a level of design, planning and material readiness that is unsurpassed.”
The Marlins, which will home port in Jacksonville, Florida, will enter service in late 2015 and early 2016. TOTE recently announced it entered into an agreement with Pivotal LNG and WesPac Midstream to provide LNG to the ships.