Crowley Maritime naval architecture and marine engineering company Jensen Maritime has secured a contract from LNG America to design liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker barges in the US.
The bunker barges will serve the dual purpose of moving LNG from LNG America's Louisiana supply source to coastal-based storage and distribution terminals and in directly bunkering large ships, once operational.
The vessels, which have an initial planned capacity of around 3,000m³ of LNG, are expected to deliver in late 2015.
LNG America CEO Keith Meyer said: "Through LNG America's LNG bunkering initiative, we plan to serve and facilitate the growing marine demand for LNG.
"LNG America sees the demand for marine LNG to be robust as long as LNG can be made available to the maritime industry on a reliable, dependable and cost-competitive basis."
Jensen Maritime vice-president Johan Sperling said: "The significance of this agreement is not only incredible news for the marine industry, which struggles with whether to develop LNG infrastructure or vessels first, but also for companies along the US Gulf that hope to replace their traditional vessels with cleaner, more efficient LNG-powered ones."
In 2008, Jensen first produced prototype designs for LNG vessels and also developed designs for a 100ft x 40ft LNG tugboat.
The firm is also developing designs for various LNG bunker vessels, harbor tugs, ATBs, container ships and tankers, along with inland vessels for different customers in the US.
Image: Design of LNG bunker barge. Photo: courtesy of Jensen Maritime.