In November 2017, New Orleans-based Q-LNG Transport LLC awarded a contract to VT Halter Marine, Pascagoula, Miss., to build a first-of-its-kind (in the U.S.) liquid natural gas (LNG) articulated tug/barge (ATB) unit. The ATB consists of a 324'x64'x32'6", 4,000-cu.-meter barge and a 128'x42'x21' 5,100-hp tug.

Shane Guidry, Q-LNG Transport's CEO (left), Sen. Roger F. Wicker, R-Miss. (center), and Ronald Baczkowski, president and CEO, VT Halter Marine (right) jointly announce the names of the barge and tug that make up Q-LNG's new ATB under construction at VT Halter Marine. Ken Hocke photo

On Monday, the shipyard hosted a naming ceremony. Halter’s president and CEO Ronald Baczkowski, Q-LNG Transport’s CEO Shane Guidry, and U.S. Sen. Roger F. Wicker, R-Miss., simultaneously announced that the barge would be named Q-LNG 4000 and the tug, Q-Ocean Service.

The new ATB is scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2020 and will work under a 15-year contract for Shell Trading (U.S.) Co., delivering LNG fuel to various ports in Florida and the Caribbean.

“I’m proud to say this barge is the first American-built, Jones Act-compliant [LNG] bunkering barge and the talented people of VT Halter Marine did the production design and construction right here in Pascagoula,” Baczkowski said during the ceremony.

The new ATB will bunker Carnival Cruise Line’s two new dual-fuel ships and two dual-fuel Siem Car Carrier’s pure car/truck carriers chartered by the Volkswagon Group to transport vehicles from Europe to North America.

Thomas Vecchiolla, president and CEO, ST Engineering North America Inc., VT Halter’s parent company, told those in attendance that the building and delivery of the ATB “is the next major development in innovation and infrastructure in the cruise and commercial ship industries as they advance to cleaner and more efficient fuels as well as promoting the U.S. as a leader in energy production.”

Q-LNG 4000 and Q-Ocean Service are designed to provide ship-to-ship transfers of LNG to vessels that use LNG as a fuel source and also ship-to-shore transfers to small scale marine distribution infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico and abroad.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and VT Halter Marine's senior vice president Robert Socha following the naming ceremony at the shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. Ken Hocke photo

Q-LNG's Guidry praised his LNG team and the shipyard saying that “nobody else is doing [what they are doing].” He also said of Halter, “The shipyard is doing an excellent job. It’s been very painless for me.”

LNG is natural gas that’s been cooled down to liquid form for ease and safety of non-pressurized storage or transport. It takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in its gaseous state.

In an interview with WorkBoat following the ceremony, Guidry said he has plans to build another LNG ATB at Halter. “This one will be twice the size,” he said. As for the 15-year contract with Shell, he said, “I tried to get 20.”

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.