Nicknamed Q4K, the purpose-built articulated tug and bunker barge was designed, engineered and certified internationally and in the US to provide safe and reliable ship-to-ship transfers of LNG. Based at Port Canaveral, the Q4K will provide LNG to cruise ships, starting with Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras beginning this year.
Four years in the planning
'This project has been four years from concept to reality and we are excited to welcome the Q-LNG 4000 to fuel the next generation of cruise ships,' Port CEO Capt. John Murray said. 'We have been working closely with our cruise partners, all the federal and state regulatory agencies and industry leaders to promote this industry initiative.'
The barge, constructed in cooperation with LNG fuel supplier Shell Trading Co. and Q-LNG Transport, arrived at Port Canaveral for a sailing and berthing familiarization exercise. The vessel docked at the newly constructed Cruise Terminal 3, which was completed in June but has not yet welcomed its first cruisers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
'LNG is the fuel of the future. it’s clean, less expensive and made right here in the United States,' said Canaveral Port Authority Commission Chairman Wayne Justice, a retired rear admiral with the US Coast Guard. 'We are proud to be part of making this safe, secure move to the future in this region..
The 324-foot barge is attached to a 128-foot tug. The US-owned and operated vessel was constructed at VT Halter Marine in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is crewed by US mariners. It is the first Jones Act-compliant articulated tug and bunker barge specifically designed to conduct LNG cargo and bunker operations.
Six to eight hours to refuel a cruise ship
It will take about six to eight hours for the Q4K to conduct ship-to-ship waterside bunkering of a cruise vessel like Mardi Gras. This will take place during passenger disembarkation and embarkation, just as conventional refueling operations do.
'LNG is the marine fuel of the future, it’s domestically sourced and in abundant supply in the US. We look to supplying not only cruise ships but trading vessels in the future,' said Chad Verret, president of Q-LNG Transport.
The barge will load LNG from a fuel distribution facility on Elba Island, Georgia, returning to refuel after each LNG bunkering operation at Port Canaveral. Q4K has a carrying capacity of up to 4,000 cubic meters, the equivalent of 1m gallons of fuel. The Q-LNG 4000 will carry enough LNG supply to fuel two cruise ships, each for a seven-day itinerary.
Safety and security
The Canaveral Port Authority has been preparing for the onset of LNG fueled cruise vessels for four years, working closely with federal and state regulatory and oversight authorities and agencies, and investing in infrastructure and personnel training to ensure the safety and security of the port and surrounding community.
LNG bunkering will be backed up by the port's newly acquired fireboat, which arrived in January. The purpose-built Marine Firefighting Rescue Vessel will be operated by Canaveral Fire Rescue to provide enhanced fire protection and response capabilities.