Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon bay, Wis., started construction on the largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) bunkering barge ever built in the U.S.
Bay Shipbuilding is expected to complete construction on the 416' barge in late 2023 under contract with Crowley, the largest independent operator of tank vessels in the U.S. Crowley will operate the vessel under a long-term charter with Shell NA LNG LLC.
The barge, which will have the capacity for 12,000 m3 (3.17 million gallons) of LNG, will be the largest Jones Act-compliant vessel of its kind, and the second Jones Act-compliant bunker barge Shell has under a time charter in the U.S.
Serving the U.S. East Coast, it will be used to help expand current LNG network capacity and meet demands for cleaner energy sources for ships.
“We are excited to get this project started, and equally pleased that it builds on our relationship with Crowley and Shell,” Craig Perciavalle, vice president and general manager of Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, said in a statement announcing the beginning of construction. “Our team is committed to giving our customers the best value, and we are happy to get started on this important project.”
LNG or liquefied natural gas, is a process through which natural gas is cooled to a liquid state and reduced by nearly 600%, which makes it easier and safer to transport. Bunkering barges either transport the gas to locations where it can be returned to a gaseous state for energy, or it can be used to refuel other vessels which use LNG.
“We congratulate the men and women of Bay Shipbuilding on the start of this innovative, landmark vessel that will help the maritime industry meet demand for cleaner operations with reduced emissions,” said Tucker Gilliam, vice president, Crowley Shipping. “In partnership with Shell, this vessel will expand the availability of LNG to vessels and help advance the transition to lower-emission fuels as the industry seeks to reduce emissions.”
Dean Sahr, Crowley’s manager of new construction and LNG engineering, pushed the button on the state-of-the-art metal cutter to cut the first piece of steel in Sturgeon Bay on Jan. 6. The vessel is designed by Crowley Engineering Services, the company’s naval architecture and marine engineering solutions group.
“Shell is working hard to meet our customers’ growing needs with the energy solutions they are looking for,” said Tahir Faruqui, general manager, Global DLNG for Shell. “As we continue to expand our LNG bunkering network, we are excited to see work underway on this vessel, one which will support the shipping sector’s continued progress toward decarbonization.”
LNG burns much cleaner than the other fossil fuels, resulting in greater reductions in pollution and less internal wear on engines.
Dario Deste, the head of Fincantieri’s U.S. operations, reinforced the importance of this project and the role that Bay Shipbuilding has. “Our team at Bay has done a tremendous job of managing the build cycles of several large and important vessels during the pandemic,” he said. “Even with Covid-related supply chain challenges globally, we continue to meet our customers’ timelines. Delivering on schedule is a point of pride for Fincantieri.”