By Mark Edward Nero
On Saturday, March 25, General Dynamics NASSCO christened and launched the Palmetto State – the final ship in an eight-ship “ECO Class” tanker program to be constructed at the company’s San Diego headquarters.
According to NASSCO, the new ECO-class design symbolizes the emerging direction of the shipping industry in the US toward cleaner, more fuel-efficient modes of transporting product. The design provides a 33 percent fuel efficiency improvement compared to product tankers built just a few years ago.
In 2013, NASSCO entered into agreements with two companies, American Petroleum Tankers and SEA-Vista LLC, to design and construct a total of eight 50,000 deadweight-ton, LNG-conversion-ready product tankers to include a 330,000-barrel cargo capacity each. Seven of the eight tankers have been delivered to their respective customers. The final tanker, the Palmetto State, is scheduled for delivery this summer.
More than a thousand shipbuilders, their families and friends, and members of the community attended the christening celebration. Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) served as the principal speaker for the event.
The ship’s sponsor, who christened the vessel with the traditional break of a champagne bottle on the ship’s hull, was Linda Rankine, the wife of Bill Rankine, manager of marine chartering and operations for CITGO. NASSCO’s manager of planning, Karen Herrmann, served as the trigger honoree, and CITGO marine chartering manager Shari Flippin acted as the first shore removal honoree.
The Palmetto State and her sister ships are the most fuel-efficient tankers to service the Jones Act trade, according to NASSCO, which is the only major shipyard on the West Coast of the United States conducting design, construction and repair of commercial and US Navy ships.
In the past decade, NASSCO has delivered 29 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers, including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships. In the past two years, NASSCO processed more than 120,000 tons of steel.