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Saltchuk People

Rainier Manager Tony Silva working on new LNG ships for TOTE

Foss’ Rainier Shipyard Manager Tony Silva joins TOTE LNG Shipbuilding team in San Diego

By Bruce Sherman –This article first appeared in the April 2014 Issue of Towbitts, the official publication of Foss Maritime.

Rainier Shipyard Production Manager Tony Silva is on a two-year assignment with Foss sister company TOTE, working as an owner’s representative during construction of two new LNG powered containerships in San Diego.

Silva will oversee steel inspection for TOTE, working side-by-side with representatives of the Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping, examining steel as it is fabricated to make sure the work complies with design and regulatory requirements.

A graphic shows the new TOTE's new Marlin Class ships at sea
TOTE’s new Marlin Class ships are the first LNG powered containerships in the world

The 764-foot vessels, the world’s first LNG powered containerships, are being built at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard.They are said to be the most advanced, environmentally progressive vessels of their kind. When finished, they will be based in Jacksonville, Fla., to serve the Puerto Rico trade.

“It’s nice to be involved with a project like this,” said Silva, who started his new assignment in early March. “More than anything, I’ll be gaining experience in how a larger yard works to produce a huge-scale ship in a short amount of time.”

Though the Rainier yard is much smaller than the NASSCO facility where the LNG ships are being built, Silva said he expects to learn construction techniques that he can bring back to Foss. “Steel is steel,” he said. “I’m going to soak things up like a sponge.”

Coincidentally, Silva is a native of San Diego. He moved to the Northwest with his future wife in 1990. He got a job as a laborer at the Rainier Yard in 1998, became a welder/fitter and then began a series of promotions to lead man, foreman, superintendent, and then to production manager last year. He is 44.

The Rainier Shipyard was primarily a repair facility until 2003, when it went into the new-vessel construction business. Its new vessels have included 10 Dolphin-class tugs, nine of which are currently operated by Foss. The yard is now building the first of three Arctic-class ocean-going tugs for Foss, the most complex vessels it has taken on so far.

TOTE’s new Marlin Class ships are the first LNG powered containerships in the world.

The new Marlin Class ships will deliver substantial environmental benefits with clean-burning LNG, reducing emissions below even the world’s most stringent standards. Sulfur dioxide will be cut by 98 percent, particulate matter by 99 percent and nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide by 71 percent less than the emissions of TOTE ships currently operating in the Puerto Rican trade.

TOTE also is converting the two ships it operates between Tacoma and Anchorage to LNG.

At a ceremony in late February in San Diego to mark the start of construction of the new ships, Saltchuk Chairman Mark Tabbutt said, “The move to LNG fuel is no less significant than the evolution from sail to steam. The Marlins represent the start of a new age in American Maritime.”

Said Silva, “I feel very privileged to work for an organization that has allowed me the opportunity to be involved with this project and further my career.”