PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - VT Halter Marine has just completed the first vessel of its kind ever built in America. The tug and barge will deliver liquefied natural gas.
The project is a big step forward for shipbuilding in South Mississippi.
The 324-foot barge and tug, built in Pascagoula, revolutionizes both the shipping and the energy sectors. Its completion has made history.
“It’s the first built-in-America offshore LNG bunkering barge. It can refuel ships. It can also refuel ship-to-shore,” said VT Halter Marine President and CEO, Ron Baczkowski.
With VT Halter Marine constructing the barge and tug, South Mississippi’s shipbuilding industry is making a statement.
“To go back and tell the rest of the country what we do right here in Jackson County... The quality, dependability, reliability and national security,” said Senator Cindy Hyde Smith.
Proud shipyard workers were joined by Congressman Steven Palazzo and Senators Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker at the naming ceremony, a maritime tradition.
The contract was awarded in 2017, and the owners, Q-LNG out of New Orleans, is now taking possession.
The barge will carry 4,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Natural gas is replacing oil more and more every day.
“It’s cleaner and greener. It’s the fuel of the future for the next 30 or 40 years until we learn how to do something else that’s even more abundant and how to use it and get the technology on the forefront of being able to use that,” said Q-LNG CEO, Shane Guidry.
The barge was named the Q-LNG 4,000.
The project is a by-product of the Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, which was passed in 1920. It means shipyards like VT Halter can continue to profit from projects like this.
“It’s there to protect America’s merchant-marine lift and industrial shipbuilding capabilities by requiring ships that go from American port to American port or go up the Mississippi River. They have to be crewed, owned, constructed and flagged by Americans,” Representative Steven Palazzo said.
Some cruise ships are transitioning to natural gas from diesel fuel. Q-LNG has a contract with Carnival Cruise Lines to service its two new dual-fuel ships.
The barge will launch in October and arrive in Port Canaveral, Florida in the first quarter of 2020.