Crowley expands in Puerto Rico

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Crowley Maritime Corporation is expanding, investing in its Puerto Rico operations and planning to build two new energy efficient barges in the next four years.

It is still too early to tell what impact the shipping company's expansions may have on the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Crowley spokesman Mark Miller.

According to the Associated Press, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said Crowley plans to make Puerto Rico its center for Caribbean exports. He said the amount of cargo being moved through the Port of San Juan will increase by nearly 15 percent a year as a result.

Garcia said that Crowley, based in Jacksonville, Fla., will also invest $405 million to build two new barges and create more than 100 permanent jobs.

Crowley Maritime Corporation's deal with Puerto Rico's Port Authority is expected to generate more than $20 million for the commonwealth in the next three decades, according to the Associated Press.

In November, Crowley announced it was going to build two new cargo barges that are powered by liquid natural gas.

The ships will be larger, faster and more environmentally-friendly combination container and "roll-on/roll-off" ships.

The first of their kind, each ship is designed to travel at speeds up to 22 knots and carry containers ranging in size from 20-foot standard to 53-foot-long, 102-inch-wide, high-capacity units, along with hundreds of vehicles in enclosed, weather-tight car decking.

In an email to The Daily News on Monday, Miller said additional investment in infrastructure in Puerto Rico is planned, but not yet finalized.

"Because the new ships will not come on line until 2017, it is very premature to consider discussing the potential impact on the USVI. Therefore, we have no further information we wish to provide at the moment," Miller said.

He said weekly service to the Virgin Islands will continue for the foreseeable future.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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