May 28 - VT Systems subsidiary VT Halter Marine has begun construction on the second of two LNG-powered con-ro ships for Crowley Maritime Corporation's liner services group.

VT Halter Marine and Crowley entered into a contract for the pair of ships in November 2013. The keel for the first con-ro vessel - El Coquí - was laid at the beginning of this year and the first steel has now been cut for the second ship, Taíno.

The Commitment Class ships have been designed to maximise the carriage of 53 ft, 102 inch wide containers, which Crowley says offer the most cubic cargo capacity in the trade.

The ships will be 219.5 m long, 32.3 m wide, have a draught of 10 m, and an approximate deadweight capacity of 26,500 tonnes. Cargo capacity will be approximately 2,400 teu, with additional space for nearly 400 vehicles in an enclosed ro-ro garage.

The Jones Act ships will replace Crowley's towed triple-deck barge fleet, which has served the trade since the early 1970s. El Coquí and Taíno are scheduled for delivery in the second and fourth quarter of 2017 respectively.