Construction of the first of two new containerships for TOTE Inc. that will use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as fuel began Monday night at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.
Fireworks marked the first cut of steel in a ceremony for the so-called Marlin Class ships, which will replace older ships used by TOTE's Sea Star subsidiary that operate between Florida and Puerto Rico.
In 2012, TOTE awarded NASSCO the contract to build the two new ships for the Puerto Rico trade
. TOTE, which is part of the Saltchuk conglomerate, is also converting two existing roll-on, roll-off ships to run on LNG. They run in Totem Ocean Trailer Express 's service between Tacoma, Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska.
NASSCO said the ships will "create a reduction of sulfur dioxide emissions by 98 percent, particulate matter by 99 percent, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide by 71 percent over TOTE’s ships currently operating in Puerto Rico."
The new ships will have their home port in Jacksonville, Fla., and will enter service in late 2015 and early 2016. TOTE recently announced it entered into an agreement with Pivotal LNG and WesPac Midstream to provide LNG to the ships.