president, Liquefied Natural Gas Services, at Crowley.
“We are going to see more new U.S.-flag vessels constructed that will run on LNG, others that will help
energy companies explore and extract LNG, and still
others that will transport and deliver LNG in bulk.
“Much like the current construction boom in U.S.
oil tankers and articulated tug barges to handle domestic oil, construction and operation of vessels to support
the LNG industry should help sustain and grow the
U.S. Merchant Marine,” he said.
In an agreement with General Dynamics NASSCO,
TOTE announced late last year it will construct two containerships for the Puerto Rico trade powered by dual-fuel
LNG engines, with an option for three more vessels for
domestic service. TOTE also received permits in mid-
2012 to pursue converting two of its vessels that operate
in the Puget Sound region, the Orca-class container ships,
M/V Midnight Sun and M/V Northstar, to the use of LNG
by 2016, a significant effort toward emissions reductions
that, according to TOTE, is among the first conversions in
the world on vessels like the Orca-class ship.
TOTE had to address the issue of maintaining clean-energy vessel deployments within designated U.S.
“ecozones,” which are defined as environmental protected emission control areas within 200-mile areas of
U.S. coastal waters, said Anthony Chiarello, president
and chief executive officer of TOTE Inc.
An Environmental Protection Agency mandate that
went into effect Aug. 1, 2012, requires ships operating
in those areas to burn fuel with no more than 1 percent
sulfur through 2015, when the sulfur limit decreases to
TOTE’s Orca-class container ships run between Anchorage, Alaska, and Tacoma, Wash., and never leave the
ecozone, while TOTE container vessels in the Puerto Rico
trade are in an ecozone 45 percent of the time, he said.
“For us, a big question was how to address [environ-
mental needs], not only for stair-stepping of sulfur burn
requirements but for the long term,” Chiarello said. “And
that’s what brought us toward the decision to convert the
Orca vessels going through Alaska, and then the second
decision right behind that to build the first-ever LNG
burning ships for the Puerto Rico trade.”
Chiarello said he believes global carriers may still be
years away from shifting to LNG. The chief concern for
the bigger carriers, he said, involves the supply net-
work, or access to LNG, which is readily available in
the U.S. domestic trades.
“Global carriers [will need to] have an LNG supply
network to meet their requirements, but when that
happens, I am convinced that these carriers are going
to go to LNG,” he said. “It’s a pretty exciting time to
see the U.S. shipyards become so active … and a resur-
gence [for the Jones Act trades] is very nice to see.”
Chiarello said TOTE works closely with the com-
mercial mariner community and the unions, and
together they are launching LNG training programs.
“We are very fortunate to have a fantastic partnership
with the unions,” he said. “They are going to be actively
involved in the training programs that we are currently
putting together for LNG, partnering with us, and very
supportive in this major change we’re doing with LNG
on both the new builds and the conversions.”
Tellez said the SIU is monitoring the outcome of
possible budget cuts to the Maritime Security Program
(MSP). If the MSP fleet is reduced due to budget short-
falls, the absence of those ships threatens to shrink the
U.S. Merchant Mariner pool.
To that end, Tellez said because there is a constant
focus on maintaining a viable pool of U.S. Merchant
Mariners, he personally believes a good opportunity to
grow that pool would be an attempt to attract returning veterans to the industry.
“It’s a crime that a guy who did four tours in
Afghanistan comes back here and has nothing to do,”
Tellez said. “There is no place for him. You’ve got this
whole new energy field that is about to blossom, and
we can get these folks. They are good folks, they are
disciplined, they know how to work, they know how
to be trained, and you hire them and you start rebuild-
ing this country and this economy again.”
Tellez said MSP is an unfortunate target of seques-
tration, referring to the program as a “linchpin” of the
national maritime policy.
“MARAD’s critically important Maritime Security
Program not only strengthens national security, but provides employment to more than 2,700 U.S. mariners and
an additional 5,000 shore side jobs,” Novak told Seapower.
Caponiti said the maritime industry is challenged by
the fact that government programs that support sealift
are under siege with sequestration.
“The programs themselves are there, but when there
is no money or when the funding is eliminated or challenged, we are in danger of losing some of the assets
somewhat permanently,” Caponiti said.
Echoing that concern on behalf of the availability of a
skilled mariner pool in the United States, Tellez views
MSP as critical on many levels, from readiness to training.
“MSP makes it possible to have vessels out there for
the country [for readiness] and also to have the vessels
serve as a platform where you train people coming into
the industry … and this is the manpower pool that will
be called upon not if, but when, the next war breaks
out,” he said. “You can start a war and fight a war without us, but you can’t win without us. Because the guy
who wins the war is the guy who is guaranteed a continuous supply chain. That’s a logistics asset, and that
is what we do.” n