New ship at JaxPort ready for maiden voyage to Puerto Rico

El Coquí a ConRo ship powered by liquefied natural gas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new ship at the Jacksonville Port Authority is ready for its maiden voyage and ready to open the gates to a new kind of delivery to Puerto Rico.

El Coquí, in the Crowley Maritime fleet, is one of the world's first combination container/roll on-roll off, or ConRo, ships. It's also powered by liquefied natural gas.

There are so many firsts to consider, and some impressive credentials.

"She'll be loaded with 750 containers and over 300 cars, and she'll be sailing for Puerto Rico on Friday," said Tom Crowley of Crowley Maritime.

Crowley is clearly proud of the new ship because of what it can do and how it does it.

"The first of its kind in the world," Crowley said. "This is the largest ship refueling in the world for LNG. It will provide many, many years of clean burning for this ship running back from Puerto Rico to Jacksonville."

LNG means cleaner-burning fuel and meeting regulations coming in 2020.

Crowley made a big investment in a liquidation plan and refueling station, cooperating with the city of Jax and JaxPort.

As for where it goes, that's important to people such as Jaime Torres, the ship's first mate who is from Puerto Rico. He's responsible for cargo operations on the ship.

"People of Puerto Rico have been through a lot. I know. I went through the hurricane in San Juan," Torres said. "The people of Puerto Rico are very excited with the delivery of the new ship and the cargo coming its way."

The ship gets on its way for the first time around 6 p.m. Friday.

Between spending on terminals and ships -- both in Jacksonville and Puerto Rico -- Crowley made a total investment of about half a billion dollars.

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