Construction of TOTE’s two Marlin Class containerships began on Monday, hailed as the first LNG containerships in the world.
Production started with a bang, as fireworks followed the first cut of steel at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.
The two 764-foot vessels have been ordered by TOTE Inc., parent company of Sea Star ships, at a cost of US$350 million, with an estimated delivery date for the end of 2015/start of 2016.
Both containerships will operate out of Jacksonville Florida on a route to Puerto Rico.
The Marlin-Class vessels will hold about 60 percent more cargo than the Sea Star ships that currently operate on this line.
The decision to build the two LNG powered vessels comes after a series of environmental decisions by the Alaskan corporation. In 2012, TOTE announced the conversion of their existing Alaskan RO/RO fleet to LNG.
TOTE have also announced that they will be converting two ships that run the Tacoma, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska route, with a date set for 2016/17.
Whilst there are 42 LNG powered ships already in operation globally and 37 on order, TOTE’s two Marlins will be the first LNG powered containerships and the largest LNG powered vessels in the world.
By shifting to LNG the Marlins will produce 98 percent less SOx, while NOx and CO2 production will both decrease by 71 percent and particulate matter by a staggering 99 percent.
Sea Star has already announced an agreement with Pivotal LNG and WesPac Midstream to fuel the vessels. The two companies are planning to build a plant in Jacksonville for this purpose.
Mark Tabbutt, chairman of Saltchuk, TOTE’s parent company, stated the importance of the development, comparing a shift to LNG as being “no less significant than the evolution from sail to steam.”