Tuesday, November 10, 2015

TOTE Delaying LNG Vessel Conversions

By Mark Edward Nero

TOTE Maritime says its delaying its conversion of two Tacoma-based ships to liquefied natural gas-fueled propulsion due to the loss of the 790-foot container ship El Faro on Oct. 1 during a voyage to Puerto Rico from Florida.

El Faro had been scheduled to move to Tacoma from Florida later this month to replace one of two Tote Maritime Alaska ships that sails between Tacoma and Anchorage. That vessel, the ORCA class Midnight Sun, had been scheduled to head to Singapore-based Keppel Shipyard for a four-month conversion of its propulsion system from oil to LNG.

The planned conversion, if it eventually moves forward, would be one of the world’s first major transformations of a large roll on/roll off vessel to LNG, according to Totem Ocean.
TOTE Maritime President John Parrott recently informed the media that without a ship to replace the Midnight Sun, TOTE is forced to delay the conversion by a year.

El Faro, previously known as the Northern Lights, served the Alaska route until 2006 when it was transferred to Florida to serve TOTE Maritime Alaska’s sister company, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico.

The 40-year-old El Faro sank Oct. 1 when its propulsion system failed as it encountered hurricane-force winds and waves east of the Bahamas. A total of 33 crew members were killed.

El Faro has already been replaced on the Puerto Rico run by the Isla Bella, the first of two new LNG-fueled containerships built for TOTE by NASSCO San Diego.