Isla Bella

Orders for new ships slow, but U.S. owners active in sales and purchase

The total capacity of these vessels is just over 7 million deadweight tons (dwt), with a total current value of $4.5 billion (See Table 1: Value of U.S.-Built Shipping). Globally, the United States (as a shipbuilding nation) is ranked in 11th place (in terms of dwt) and a respectable sixth place behind South Korea, Japan, China, the Philippines, Germany, and Turkey in terms of the current value of the U.S. built fleet. Based on the volume of ships on the water, the most prolific U.S. shipbuilder has been NASSCO, San Diego, CA, a unit of General Dynamics. NASSCO also operates shipyards on the U.S. East Coast in Mayport, FL, and Norfolk, VA. As of mid-March, VesselsValue estimated the ships being built at NASSCO had values of around $900 million (this value excludes delivered ships). NASSCO recently launched the 53,700 dwt MR tanker Independence, which VesselsValue currently values at $133.45 million (this excludes a premium for the Jones Act). The Independence will be joined by two MR2 tankers on order at NASSCO for Seabulk Tankers. As of mid-March, NASSCO had four MR2 tankers on its order book for American Petroleum Tankers.  Charts Shipbuilding

The San Diego shipyard delivered two LNG-fuelled 3,100-TEU containerships, including the lead of the Marlin class, the Isla Bella, in November 2015 to Tote Maritime. The Isla Bella, along with its sister, Perla dela Caribe, are now operating between Jacksonville, FL, and San Juan, PR.

The only other U.S. shipyard with bulker, tanker, and gas carrier vessels currently on its order book is Philly Shipyard, Philadelphia, PA (formerly known as Aker Philadelphia Shipyard Inc.) Philly Shipyard has built product tankers, crude carriers, and containerships. The Philly Shipyard built fleet is currently valued at just over $1 billion. Its order book consists of eight 50,000 dwt MR tankers and this design has been classed by ABS as LNG Ready, which provides the owner with the flexibility to choose to convert the ship to dual fuel operation in the future.

In early May, Crowley Maritime Corporation christened the Louisiana, third of four LNG Ready product tankers at the Julia Street Cruise Terminal in New Orleans, LA.

Like its sisters, the 600 ft Louisiana is based on a proven design from Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyards (HMD) design. It can carry crude oil or refined petroleum products, as well as other chemical products. 

Construction management services were provided by Crowley’s marine solutions group, which provides oversight and management in shipyards across the country for Crowley and other third-party companies. Philly Shipyard also built the tankers Texas and Ohio for Crowley, and the fourth ship in the program is under construction with delivery planned for third quarter 2016.

“The christening underscores our continued commitment to building and operating innovative vessels that deliver the best possible service and efficiency for our customers who depend on us for safe and reliable transportation of petroleum products,” says Rob Grune, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Petroleum Services. “And, as is the case with its sister ships, we designed and built the Louisiana to have the capability to be converted to LNG propulsion in the future, increasing the likelihood of a long service life as new emissions regulations are developed in the years ahead.”

It’s no secret that the U.S. Jones Act fleet is considerably older than the average age of the global, non-U.S.-built fleet. The current U.S.-built fleet has an average age of 33 years old versus 13 years old for the global fleet. The most recent ships produced by U.S. shipyards have been tankers and the average age of U.S.-built tankers is only five years older than the global fleet. However, there has been virtually no U.S. investment in bulkers (many of them are part of the Great Lakes fleet). The U.S.-built bulker fleet has an average age of 46 years old versus nine years old for the global fleet. Even a relatively modern ship type, such as containerships, the average age of the U.S.-built fleet is 32 years old, considerably older than the average of 11 years old for non-U.S.-built vessels.

According to VesselsValue, the Top Ten U.S. shipowners ranked by value control around half the capacity (48%) of the U.S. fleet (see Table 2. U.S. Shipowners Ranked by Fleet Value).

The Top Ten Shipowners are tanker companies or the tanker arms of oil majors. The current most valuable U.S.-operated fleet is that American Shipping Co., a Norwegian public company controlling a fleet of 10 MR2 tankers built by Philly Shipyard and leased out to OSG, which charters them out to Jones Act qualifying companies. VesselsValue estimates this fleet is worth $830 million. The second most valuable U.S. fleet belongs to new entrant American Petroleum Tankers, which is a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Terminals, with its fleet operated by Crowley Maritime Corporation, Jacksonville, FL. This fleet will be supplemented by MR tankers currently on the order book of NASSCO. However, in the last 12 months, the U.S. order book has been very quiet, with no bulker, tankers or gas carriers ordered.

If there is one area where U.S. shipping has been active, it’s been in the sale and purchase market. The dire dry bulk market is one of the driving forces behind Scorpio Bulker selling 25 vessels in the last 12 months (March 2015 to March 2016) for a combined value (at the time of sale) of $878 million (where the sale price is undisclosed, the VV Value the day of the sale is used). Altogether 88 vessels have been sold by U.S. owners for a combined value (where the sale price is undisclosed, the VV Value the day of the sale is used) of $3.4 billion (see Table 3: Sales by U.S. Owners).

Of course, under the Jones Act, U.S. companies cannot purchase foreign-built vessels to operate in Jones Act trade routes. This reduces the pool of potential purchases, which in the last 12 months (March 2015-March 2016) have been limited to eight vessels, including four MR tankers from Philly Shipyard purchased by Kinder Morgan for a reported $568 million (See Table 4: Purchases by U.S. Owners).





  • News

Bunkering Up

Last year, General Dynamics NASSCO earned the bragging rights for building and delivering the world’s first LNG-fueled containership, the Isla Bella, to Jones Act operator TOTE Maritime. The San Diego shipbuilder capped off that technological achievement last month by delivering the 764 ft Perla del Caribe, sister ship to the Isla Bella, two months early.

The two ships were built under a contract signed by TOTE in December 2012. The investment by TOTE in the two ships was $375 million.
TOTE President and CEO Anthony Chiarello, says that the “Isla Bella is already serving the people and communities of Puerto Rico and we are excited to introduce the Perla Del Caribe into the trade next month.”


GD NASSCO designed the ships in partnership with DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), located in Busan, South Korea.

The design is based on proven containership-design standards and includes DSME’s patented LNG fuel-gas system and a MAN ME-GI dual fuel, slow-speed engine. The 8L70ME-GI engine was built by Korea’s Doosan Engine under license from MAN Diesel & Turbo.

Burning LNG will allow the Marlin Class ships to be fully compliant with strict emissions regulations while operating in both the North American Emissions Control Area and the U.S. Caribbean ECA.

The Isla Bella made its first trip from Jacksonville, FL, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 24.

ToteIslaOn January 9, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico successfully loaded LNG bunkers aboard the world’s first LNG powered containership, MV Isla Bella. Approximately 100,000 LNG gallons transported by 12 TOTE-owned LNG ISO containers were loaded on schedule. The bunkering was conducted under strict U.S. Coast Guard oversight while Isla Bella was also undergoing cargo operations.

The LNG was transferred from the ISO tank containers using a specially developed transfer skid developed by TOTE’s partner Applied Cryogenics Technologies (ACT) of Houston, TX. The transfer skid is designed to allow four ISO tanks to be transferred to Isla Bella at once, dramatically reducing transfer time.

The LNG was sourced by TOTE’s partner, JAX LNG, LLC, from AGL Resources’ LNG production facility in Macon, GA. Genox Transportation, a specialized LNG trucking partner of TOTE, transported the fuel to Jacksonville. Pivotal LNG, a subsidiary of AGL Resources, also provided transfer expertise to TOTE Maritime with its highly trained LNG experts, ensured the operation was conducted safely and in accordance with best industry practices.

Oversight of the operation both at shipside and on shore was provided by TOTE Services, Inc. (TSI), TOTE Maritime’s sister company that manages the vessels.

“We are very pleased with the results of this initial LNG bunker event and know that the use of LNG in our Marlin Class vessels will provide unprecedented environmental benefits both here in Jacksonville and in Puerto Rico,” says Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico. “We are indebted to USCG Sector Jacksonville for their diligent oversight and assistance that was invaluable and helped make this event a success. Our partners ACT, Pivotal LNG and Genox were also major components of our success. Our sister company, TSI, has developed significant expertise in LNG as a Maritime fuel and ensures that our vessels operate safely and efficiently using this environmentally superior fuel.”

Applied CryoTechnologies, Inc. (ACT) is the premier equipment supplier for cryogenics in North America. ACT is proud to be the first to market with this type of bunkering equipment for the marine industry. Leveraging ACT’s innovative style and unrivaled experience in LNG equipment is sure to bring success to any LNG fueling project.

Pivotal LNG brings liquefied natural gas to companies and industries throughout the United States through reliable, flexible and cost-effective solutions.

TOTE Maritime provides safe, reliable transportation at the fastest speed possible for the Puerto Rican and related Caribbean trades.

Meanwhile, Crowley Puerto Rico Services, Inc., Jacksonville, has selected Eagle LNG Partners as LNG supplier for the company’s new LNG-powered, Commitment Class ships, which will be delivered in 2017 for use in the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico trade. To support Crowley’s LNG needs, Eagle LNG will build an LNG plant offering a capacity of 200,000 gallons per day (87,000 gallons per day initially) in Jacksonville. The state-of-the-art facility is slated to be operational by early 2017.

The decision to partner with Eagle LNG was made by Crowley in part because of the companies’ shared commitment to the environment.

“Crowley is proud to take a leadership position in the industry’s shift to cleaner-burning, natural gas fuel solutions,” said Crowley’s John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico services. “The partnership with Eagle LNG is an important first step in developing sustainable supply infrastructure to ensure these highly technical, environmentally friendly vessels operate to their full capability.”

“The marine sector represents a significant opportunity for LNG fueling in the U.S., and Eagle LNG is well-positioned to build the necessary infrastructure and provide the specialized logistics to facilitate this energy transformation,” said Dick Brown, CEO, Eagle LNG. “It takes companies like Crowley to lead that wave of change. Eagle LNG is proud to work with such a pioneering organization.”

“This project is an important investment in our community from both economic and environmental perspectives,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “It clearly demonstrates the leadership role our region is playing in LNG development and progression, while strengthening our commitment to leaving a smaller footprint through cleaner-burning fuel.”

The supply agreement between Eagle LNG and Crowley will provide LNG fuel for the El Conqui and Taino, which are expected to be in service in the second quarter and fourth quarter of 2017 respectively.  The Jones Act ships will replace Crowley’s towed triple-deck barge fleet, which has served the trade continuously and with distinction since the early 1970s. These new ships, will offer customers fast ocean transit times, while accommodating the company’s diverse equipment selection and cargo handling flexibility – benefits customers have enjoyed for nearly 60 years.  The LNG plant is separate from the previously announced Eagle LNG Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) export terminal located along the St. Johns River, in Jacksonville, which will continue to focus on export markets in the Caribbean and Atlantic Basin.

ESL Shipping’s new dual-fuelled bulk carriers will not only be the first large LNG-fuelled bulkers, but the first vessels constructed to the new DNV GL rule set. Due for delivery in early 2018, the two highly efficient 25,600 dwt vessels are optimized for trading in the Baltic Sea region.

“It is fitting that the first vessels that will be constructed to the most forward looking set of classification rules are themselves at the cutting edge of maritime innovation,” says Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. “We have created these rules to be ready for the future and we have long pioneered the use of LNG as a ship fuel. To see these two come together in a double first for the industry is a remarkable moment. We look forward to working with ESL, Deltamarin, Sinotrans & CSC Qingshan Shipyard and all the project partners to make this project a success.”

“We are proud to be the world’s first shipyard applying the new and innovative DNV GL rules for a newbuilding, just two months after DNV GL has launched its new rules in October this year,” said Liu Guangyao, Deputy General Manager of Sinotrans & CSC at the Marintec China Trade Fair recently. “We appreciate the support that DNV GL has committed to provide on the project during both the design and construction phase, especially in a project with many advanced extra class notations. We are looking forward to a close cooperation and a successful delivery.”

Featuring the Deltamarin B.Delta26LNG design, the two highly efficient ships will feature dual-fuel main and auxiliary machinery, resulting in CO2 emissions per ton of cargo transported half that of present vessels. The bulk carriers will be built to the new DNV GL rules for general dry cargo ships with DNV GL ice class 1A and will have type C LNG tanks of approximately 400 m3 capacity enabling bunkering at several terminals within the Baltic region. The B.Delta26LNG has a shallow draft of maximum 10 m, an overall length of 160 m, and a breadth of 26 m.

“We are very excited to have been selected to take part in this ground breaking project,” says Morten Løvstad, Business Director Bulk Carriers at DNV GL. “Being asked to work with such an innovative team as the classification partner is a testament to the creativity and hard work that so many colleagues at DNV GL have invested in the new rule set. These vessels will set new standards for efficiency and environmental performance. They are an important step forward in showing how shipping can be a force for sustainability today and in the future.”

Germany’s first LNG-fueled ferry, the MS Ostfriesland, has now been  operating for AG Ems between Emden and Borkum Island on the ecologically sensitive Wadden Sea, since June 2015.

Originally built in 1985, the vessel was converted to dual fuel propulsion in a conversion that saw it fitted with a complete new aft end, construction of which got underway at German shipyard  Brenn – und Verformungstechnik Bremen GmbH while the ship remained in service.

The new aft section, which extended the vessel’s length from 78.7 m to 93 m, houses the new machinery space and LNG fuel system/tank with the vessel now being propelled by two electrically powered Schottel STP Twin thrusters, each rated at 1,150 kW at 1,480 rpm.

While the prime movers are two 6-cylinder Wärtsilä 20DF dual-fuel generating sets, for navigating within harbors, the vessel uses two Mitsubishi auxiliary generators.

Switching to LNG fuel means providing against various unlikely malfunctions, such as an ignition failure resulting in an unburned mixture of gas and air in the exhaust. This could cause uncontrolled combustion and an increase in pressure the next time ignition takes place, putting a substantial strain on the pipe components.

To protect against this, the Mitsubishi auxiliary generators are protected by a Q-Rohr flameless venting system by German manufacturer Rembe GmbH that ensures that the reaction is vented directly at the exhaust.

Both the flame and the pressure are absorbed by the stainless steel mesh filter of the Q-Rohr, providing optimum protection for the pipe components and the environment.


First LNG containership transits Panama Canal

NOVEMBER 4, 2015—The Isla Bella, the world’s first LNG-powered container vessel, transited through the Panama Canal on October 30. The transit by the Isla Bella marks a milestone for the maritime industry