World’s ‘first’ natural gas-powered cargo ship launched

US maritime firm Tote says liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship will cut NOx, sulphur dioxide and particulate emissions

The ‘world’s first’ cargo ship to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) has launched in the USA, which US maritime company Tote claims will reduce air pollution and carbon emissions in comparison to conventionally-fuelled vessels.

The Isla Bella is claimed to be the world's first LNG-powered containership (photo: Tote)

The Isla Bella is claimed to be the world’s first LNG-powered containership (photo: Tote)

Christened the Isla Bella by owners Tote, the ship was launched in San Diego last week (April 18) in partnership with US shipbuilding firm General Dynamics NASSCO and is the first of two Marlin Class containerships heading to Puerto Rico later this year.

Tote said the use of LNG as a marine fuel “defines a major shift for the industry” and that the two Marlin Class ships will reduce the firm’s emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 98%, sulphur dioxide (SOx) by 97%, particulate matter by 60% and carbon dioxide by 72% in the Puerto Rico trade.

At the ship launch, president and chief executive of Tote, Anthony Chiarello, said: “Building the Marlins has been about change as well as bold and innovative thinking. NASSCO and our other partners have enabled us to build these ships that reflect our commitment to the environment and doing what is right.”

US Congressman Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, said: “With the launch of the world’s first natural gas-powered containership, NASSCO and TOTE prove that American shipbuilders and American ships can lead the industry in innovation, and it is my hope that American shipbuilders and operators can continue to build upon this success.”

Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics at NASSCO (National Steel and Shipbuilding Company), added that the ship launch broke “new ground in green ship technology” and showcased the “economic and environmental benefits of LNG”.

The Isla Bella launched in San Diego on April 18 2015 (photo: Tote)

The Isla Bella launched in San Diego on April 18 2015 (photo: Tote)

The Isla Bella will enter service in the fourth quarter of 2015 between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The second Marlin Class vessel will be launched in the third quarter of 2015 and will enter service in the first quarter of 2016.

A report by global think tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) published in December 2014 estimated that global air pollution emission from shipping in ports will quadruple by 2050, requiring “strong policy responses” from governments and regulators (see story).


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