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Posted: February 27, 2014

Construction starts on the first LNG-powered containership in the world for TOTE's Marlin Class

Fireworks marked the first cut of steel in a ceremony held Feb. 24 as construction began on the first containership in the world to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) for TOTE, Inc.'s Marlin Class at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, Calif., TOTE, Inc. reported.

"These ships will be the most advanced, environmentally progressive vessels of their kind. But they also represent $350 million in U.S. investment, 600 American shipyard jobs, and the bright future of the indispensable domestic maritime industry," said Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

American Maritime Officers will represent all licensed officers aboard the ships in the Marlin Class.

The Marlin Class vessels mark a new age in American shipbuilding. TOTE's back-to-back announcements in 2012 - converting its existing RO/RO fleet for the Alaska trade and investing in new containerships for the Puerto Rico trade - began what can only be described as a change of tide in the U.S. maritime industry toward LNG as the new maritime fuel, the company reported. Clean-burning LNG offers unmatched environmental benefits, reducing emissions below the world's most stringent standards.

"The move to LNG fuel is no less significant than the evolution from sail to steam," said Mark Tabbutt, chairman of Saltchuk, TOTE's parent company. "The Marlins represent the start of a new age in American maritime."

Speakers at the ceremony Feb. 24 included Rep. Hunter, Acting Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen, Saltchuk Chairman Tabbutt and Kevin Graney, general manager of the NASSCO shipyard.

"We are excited to begin construction of the lead ship on this historic project," said Fred Harris, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. "All of the stakeholders on this first-of-a-kind program, including NASSCO, our Korean partners DSEC, TOTE, ABS and the USCG, are completely focused on its success. We are beginning construction at a level of design, planning and material readiness that is unsurpassed."

The Marlins - which will have Jacksonville, Fla. as a homeport - 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.

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