First LNG-powered ship will call JAXPORT home

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The first liquefied natural gas-powered container ship of its kind will port in Jacksonville.

TOTE Inc.’s Isla Bella will enter service in this fall between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to a news release from JAXPORT.

“Ports and regions that embrace the LNG opportunities before us stand to gain the most in terms of jobs, economic growth and business connectivity with communities around the world,” JAXPORT CEO Brian Taylor said. “The launching of this ship solidifies Northeast Florida’s place as a pioneer in the commercial benefits of LNG, thanks to groundbreaking decisions by our long-time port customers and the innovative spirit of the business and political leadership in our region.”

A second vessel will be launched this year and will enter service from JAXPORT in the first quarter of 2016. LNG is cleaner and more cost-efficient than ship fuels now in use, and JAXPORT is the No. 1 port for trade with Puerto Rico.

LGN-powered ships are increasingly seen in the industry as an idea whose time has come, both in terms of reduced emissions and operating costs.

In fact, all the seaboards off both the East and West coasts of the United States and Canada, as well as most of northern Europe, are emission control areas as adopted in amendments to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.

At the same time, Jacksonville is becoming something of an LNG hub, a growing sector seen by the local business community as an important economic driver for the region.

Globally, LNG is part of the increased incentive to move away from fossil fuels and towards a renewable energy mix where natural gas has a role (even in a state where the words “climate change” are said to be banned from official use.)

The positive announcement out of JAXPORT comes as the port task force assigned to evaluate the push to deepen the St. Johns River shipping channel has apparently hit a snag.

A recent report in The Florida Times-Union found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a pattern of underestimating the costs of projects such as the harbor deepening, seen as a necessity by the North Florida business community to attract bigger cargo ships.

Melissa Ross

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at [email protected]



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