The project includes the development of a new 900ft long, 114ft wide concrete pier and all associated dredging needed to accommodate Crowley’s two new liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered, Commitment Class ships, which are scheduled for delivery in 2017. Crowley’s terminal expansion also includes the installation of three new ship-to-shore container gantry cranes, which will be supplied under a separate contract.
“This important project represents close collaboration between private business and the Puerto Rico Ports Authority (PRPA) to make a major investment in the infrastructure of Puerto Rico,” explained Jose “Pache” Ayala, Crowley Vice President, Puerto Rico.
“We are very pleased to be working with a Puerto Rico-based construction company that is utilising workers on the island and keeping the money in the local economy.”
The construction contract is being executed by L.P.C. & D, of Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, which began driving the first piles for the pier last week. About 75 jobs have been created during the construction phase and about 100 new jobs will be created when the construction is completed in mid-2017 and Crowley begins service with its new ships.
“With the first pile driven, we look forward to watching the coming transformation of our terminal into the most modern and efficient port facility on the island,” said Tom Crowley, company Chairman and CEO.
“Our new terminal infrastructure will help us reposition Puerto Rico as a shipping and logistics hub for the Caribbean Basin and beyond, and open up many new opportunities for our customers.”
In all, Crowley is investing about $500 million in its Puerto Rico service with the construction of two new state-of-the-art ships, the new pier, three new container cranes, new truck access gates, reefer plugs, new containers and container handling equipment, and more.
“This investment, which is resulting in jobs, economic impact, a cleaner environment and significant service enhancements for Puerto Rico shippers, would not be possible without the Jones Act,” said Mr Crowley.
The Jones Act is a federal statute that provides for the promotion and maintenance of a strong American merchant marine. It requires that all goods transported by water between US ports be carried on US-flag ships constructed in the United States, owned by US citizens, and crewed by US citizens and US permanent residents.
“While the act ensures that we have a robust shipbuilding capability and skilled merchant mariners in the US essential to our national defense, it has also created a commercial shipping market between the mainland and Puerto Rico that is highly competitive, customised and dedicated,” said Mr Crowley.
“It is because of this competition and the longstanding rules of engagement spelled out in the Jones Act that we have the confidence to make this major investment for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico.”
The pier design, using the latest displacement-based performance criteria, has been carefully developed over the past year with the PRPA and Harbor Consulting Engineers, of Seattle. As the lead design firm for the project, Harbor is the engineer of record for the project and the duration of the construction. Crowley and Harbor have worked together on infrastructure projects for nearly 40 years. Crowley recently completed the acquisition of the necessary permits, including those from the US Army Corps of Engineers and other local agencies.
Crowley has served the Puerto Rico market since 1954, longer than any other carrier in the trade, and occupied the now 75-acre Isla Grande Terminal the entire time, making it the longest continual occupant of any Jones Act carrier in the trade. The company, with over 250 Puerto Rico employees, is also the No. 1 ocean carrier between the island commonwealth and the US mainland with more weekly sailings and more cargo carried annually than any other shipping line.