NOVEMBER 7, 2013 — A steam turbine powered Horizon Lines containership that is to be converted to LNG propulsion was originally delivered in 1980 to Waterman Line — as a barge carrier. Built by Avondale Shipyards as the Benjamin Harrison, the ship has subsequently served as the Sea-Land Spirit, the CSX Spirit and, since 2003, the Horizon Spirit.
Today it was announced that it will be one of the beneficiaries of two U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) awards worth a total of $1.4 million supporting the increased use of alternative fuels and technology in the maritime industry. The funds will be used to collect information on use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine propulsion and study the issues and challenges associated with shore side storage and fueling of LNG vessels.
"Fuel-efficient ships appeal to the maritime industry for the exact same reasons that fuel-efficient cars appeal to consumers – they're easy on the environment and their pocketbooks," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "The Obama Administration is committed to protecting our environment and reducing pollution, and the information we'll gather from these projects will help us strengthen America's clean energy economy."
Through a partnership agreement, MARAD will provide Horizon Lines, Inc. with $900,000 to assist in conversion and monitoring of the Horizon Spirit, to operate on LNG. Measuring the efficiency and air emissions of these new LNG engines will provide valuable data as the U.S. maritime industry looks to greener and more cost effective options, says MARAD. The ship operates between Long Beach, California, and Honolulu, Hawaii. The conversion is anticipated to be completed by late-2015.
Back in June, Horizon Lines announced that it planned to convert the power plants on two of its steam turbine cargo vessels to modern diesel engines capable of burning conventional liquid fuels or liquefied natural gas (LNG).
It said the two initial steam vessels targeted for the planned repowering were structurally viable for the conversions and that six request-for-pricings (RFPs) had been issued to U.S. shipyards and six to foreign shipyards. In a predetermination ruling from the USCG National Vessel Documentation Center on coastwise eligibility, the USCG ruled that the work as described could take place in a foreign shipyard without jeopardizing the Jones Act status of the vessels.
Horizon Lines said it was conducting due diligence regarding various engine manufacturers capable of meeting the company's specifications for a dual-fuel, medium-speed diesel power plant required for the planned repowering project and said it had engaged MAN Diesel & Turbo SE to conduct preliminary engineering, consulting and design work related to the proposed repowering project.
The second project is a $500,000 MARAD funded LNG study conducted by the U.S. subsidiary of Det Norske Veritas Inc. to analyze the issues and challenges associated with LNG bunkering. It is anticipated this study will be complete by spring 2014.
"The maritime industry is taking important steps to reduce vessel air emissions," said Acting Maritime Administrator Paul N. Jaenichen. "Using clean energy means green efficient transportation and a better environment for mariners who work aboard these vessels and others who work in the maritime industry and communities."
The two recipients were chosen in a competitive process to partner with MARAD as part of a new program to demonstrate innovative technologies and practices and share data on the results.