The US Government has approved a $324.6 million Title XI loan guarantee to TOTE Shipholdings, Inc. to finance the construction of the world’s first two LNG-fueled 3,100 TEU capacity container ships. The new so called Marlin Class vessels are under construction at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California and will be equipped with a single low speed, dual-fuel ME-GI engine capable of running on primarily on LNG. Delivery is scheduled for late 2015 and early 2016, at which point the vessels will operate in the U.S. Jones Act protected trades between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico. TOTE retains options for up to three additional ships. The Title XI program guarantees the repayment of loans, obtained in the private sector by ship owners, for the construction reconstruction, or reconditioning of vessels in US shipyards.
The State of Alaska has signed an agreement to construct two Alaska Class Ferries at Vigor Alaska in Ketchikan. The vessels will be the largest ever to be built in Alaska and the first Alaska Marine Highway System ferries to be built in the state. The contract is reported to be worth $120 million and deliveries are scheduled for 2018. The new vessels will be 280 feet long, seat up to 300 passengers and carry 53 standard vehicles.
A fire at the Pasha steel handling terminal in the Port of Los Angeles berth 179 this week has caused serious damage and delays to operations in both LA and Long Beach. The fire broke out underneath a warehouse sending toxic smoke hundreds of feet into the air. The seriousness of the fire resulted in the establishment of a unified command to oversee 170 firefighters and involving the LA and Long Beach Fire Departments, Los Angeles Port Police and United Stated Coast Guard. Two vessels were ordered to be removed from the immediate vicinity. No injuries were recorded but the wharf, a warehouse and a so far unspecified amount of cargo have been heavily damaged or lost.
President Obama this week announced a major expansion of a marine preservation area, originally created by president Bush in 2006, to form the world’s largest marine sanctuary. The Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument will grow from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles — all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States. The sanctuary covers a broad swath of the central Pacific Ocean and will be off-limits to fishing, energy exploration and other activities. The proposal is scheduled to go into effect later this year and will effectively double the area of the ocean globally that is fully protected.