On Saturday, Crowley Maritime Corp. christened its Commitment-class combination container/roll on-roll off (ConRo) ship El Coquí, which is among the first of its kind to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The ship is a key new component in Crowley’s supply chain transformation in the U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico trade, the company said.

The El Coquí is the first of two Commitment-class, LNG-powered ConRo ships built at VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss., for Crowley’s shipping and logistics services between Jacksonville, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Operated by Crowley’s global ship management group, El Coquí arrived in San Juan on its maiden voyage July 30 from the Jacksonville Port Authority (Jaxport), its dedicated U.S. mainland port.

The new 720′ Crowley ships, built specifically for the Puerto Rico trade, are 26,500 deadweight tons (DWT), and can transport up to 2,400 20-foot-equivalent container units (TEUs) at a cruising speed of 22 knots. A wide range of container sizes and types can be accommodated, including 53-foot by 102-inch-wide, high-capacity containers, up to 300 refrigerated containers, and a mix of about 400 cars and larger vehicles in the enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight Ro/Ro decks.

The new ConRo vessel can carry up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent container units. Crowley Maritime Corp. photo

The new ConRo vessel can carry up to 2,400 twenty-foot-equivalent container units. Crowley Maritime Corp. photo

The El Coqui's sistership Taíno is in the final phases of construction and is about to begin sea trials at VT Halter’s shipyard in Pascagoula. It is expected to be delivered later this year.

“It’s a culmination of many, many years of hard work, many, many years of transition for this company,” Crowley chairman and CEO Tom Crowley said. “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.”

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, including three new gantry cranes; a new 900' 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, Crowley officials said. The company believes that long-term, liquefied natural gas will emerge as the preferred fuel for ships.