Tuesday, September 23, 2014

US DOT Awards TOTE $324 Million Loan

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Dept. of Transportation has approved a $324.6 million Title XI loan guarantee to TOTE Shipholdings to finance the construction of two liquefied natural gas-fueled containerships.

As dual-fuel vessels, primarily operating with LNG, but with light diesel as needed, the vessels are expected to be among the most environmentally friendly containerships in the world, with engines that reduce the discharge of particulates to well below the levels mandated by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The vessels are to be constructed at National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) in San Diego. Construction of the vessels is expected to generate 600 jobs at NASSCO and support companies throughout the nation that supply the materials and equipment. Once in service, the two new vessels are expected to provide for 60 new US merchant mariner jobs.

“This is proof-positive that when we work to build America’s green energy economy, we can directly support the creation of meaningful jobs, supporting the president’s goal to strengthen America’s middle class,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a prepared statement announcing the loan guarantee. “This one action significantly decreases emissions, supports jobs from one coast to the other, bolsters the nation’s manufacturing base and continues growing our economy.”

The vessels are expected to be delivered in 2015 and 2016. TOTE will operate them in trade between the Port of Jacksonville and Puerto Rico, transporting containers, automobiles and other cargoes.

The Title XI loan guarantee program promotes the growth and modernization of US shipyards and the US merchant marine by ensuring the US vessels are manufactured in US shipyards by US workers. It guarantees the repayment of loans, obtained in the private sector by shipowners, for the construction, reconstruction or reconditioning of vessels in US shipyards.

The US Maritime Administration currently guarantees about $1.7 billion in US shipyard projects.