Shipping company TOTE and shipbuilder NASSCO on Saturday launched Perla del Caribe, the second of two Marlin Class ships – the first containerships in the world to be powered by natural gas. The christening and launch ceremony took place at General Dynamics NASSCO’s shipyard in San Diego.
The 764-foot-long Perla del Caribe and sister ship, christened Isla Bella, are Jones Act vessels built for the Puerto Rican trade for TOTE Shipholdings and will be operated by TOTE subsidiary Sea Star Line out of Jacksonville, Fla.
According to the builder, the vessels’ green ship technology, designed by NASSCO and its partners, will decrease emissions while increasing fuel efficiency when compared to conventionally-powered ships. By moving to natural gas, the Marlins will reduce NOx emissions by 98 percent, SOx by 97 percent, carbon dioxide by 72 and particulate matter by 60 percent over the Ponce Class ships, the company’s vessels currently serving the trade, TOTE said.
Tim Nolan, President of Sea Star Line, noted, “The ability to innovate and lead in the maritime sector is something that comes along once in a lifetime. . .These ships and the technology they employ will redefine what is possible in the shipping industry both here in the United States and abroad.”
Ordered in December 2012 as part of a two-ship contract between TOTE and NASSCO, Perla del Caribe will enter service in the first quarter of 2016 between Jacksonville, Fla. and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Isla Bella, the first Marlin Class vessel, was launched in April of 2015 and will enter service later this year.
Also speaking at Saturday’s launch ceremony, Tim Engle, President of Saltchuk, TOTE’s parent company, said, “TOTE is one of six lines of business that together create a national transportation network, moving cargo by land, sea and air. Saltchuk continually invests in our operations, ensuring that we provide safe, stable and proud environments for our more than 7,500 employees to come to work each day.”
"The Marlin Class ships are the most fuel efficient, eco-friendly containerships in the world. As the first of their kind, these ships represent the next generation of US-built ships and we at General Dynamics NASSCO are proud to be leading in that effort," said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO.
"Once in service the Perla del Caribe and her sister ship will be crewed by the men and women of the Seafarers International Union (SIU) and the American Maritime Officers (AMO). These organizations have a rich and distinguished history of supporting the US merchant marine with the best maritime personnel in the world, ensuring TOTE is able to deliver safe and reliable service day in and day out. We are proud of our strong partnership with SIU and AMO," commented Phil Greene, President of TOTE Services the TOTE vessel management company that will crew and manage the Marlin Class ships.
“To NASSCO shipbuilders, a launch signals the near completion of the construction of a ship; it’s when the ship enters the ocean for the very first time. It’s a moment of pride for the thousands of men and women who built the ship – piece by piece, block by block. For the Perla del Caribe, it’s no different, and when the ship is delivered, we will be very proud to say, ‘We Built That,’” said Kevin Graney, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics NASSCO.
Emma Engle, the daughter of Tim Engle and third generation of Saltchuk ownership, is the ship’s sponsor and had the honor of christening and launching the vessel. Alcinda Buirds, a 32-year NASSCO employee, pulled the trigger to release the ship into the San Diego Bay.