Crowley Liner Services’ new flat-deck barge 455-4, capable of carrying up to 400 loads, is en route to Puerto Rico on its maiden voyage.
The vessel’s deployment marks an important milestone in Crowley’s rapid response to the sudden departure of Horizon Lines from the Puerto Rico trade.
Since mid-December, Crowley has created additional weekly cargo capacity for about 780 loads – or 78 percent of the 1,000 loads previously hauled by Horizon Lines in an average week.
"Before Horizon left the trade, we had, on average, about 230 empty container slots each week on Crowley vessels," explained Jose "Pache" Ayala, Crowley vice president, Puerto Rico. "That space has been absorbed by customers. In mid-December, we structurally modified our barge layouts to optimize the stow factor, which generated enough new capacity for another 100 loads a week."
"Then on Jan. 15, we began running our vessels at an accelerated speed, which increased our frequency of service and weekly cargo capacity by
another 250 loads. And most recently, we deployed the new flat-deck barge, which will arrive every other week in Puerto Rico – effectively increasing capacity by 200 loads per week."
In addition, Crowley has begun putting into service more than 6,500 pieces of new cargo handling equipment, including 40-foot, 45-foot and 48-foot high cube containers, 20-foot ISO tanks and a mix of fixed and slider chassis.
"We completely understand that there has been some stress on the island’s supply chain given the abrupt departure of Horizon Lines from the market," said John Hourihan, Crowley senior vice president and general manager. "We have responded aggressively to replace the void they left, and are confident that current concerns will be short lived and that the island’s overall supply chain will be back to normal very soon."
Crowley said its marine engineering firm, Jensen Maritime, reconfigured the 455-4—originally designed for heavy deck cargo transportation—to handle 20’, 40’, 45’ and 53’ containers.