With investments totaling more than $1 billion, carriers engaged in commerce between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico are clearly confident that the island commonwealth will enjoy economic revival.
Executives of Crowley Maritime Corp., TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico and Trailer Bridge shared upbeat views on Puerto Rico in interviews with the American Journal of Transportation. Crowley officials pointed to company investments totaling more than $550 million, including in LNG-powered combination container and roll-on/roll-off, or ConRo, ships and enhanced terminal facilities. Meanwhile, the TOTE unit has introduced LNG-driven containerships and a new joint venture San Juan area terminal, and Trailer Bridge has upgraded its barge fleet.
These financial commitments come as Puerto Rico, under leadership of a newly sworn-in governor, looks to rebound from its second recession in the past decade, the latest downturn – on the heels of the 2006 to 2011 depths linked to the Great Recession – beginning in 2013 with expiration of U.S. corporate tax incentives and overwhelming fiscal imbalance.
Even in challenging times, the 3.5 million people of the island commonwealth in the northeast Caribbean Sea count upon U.S.-flag carriers, as required under the Jones Act in domestic trades, to bring them a full spectrum of consumer goods and other commodities, predominantly via Jacksonville, Puerto Rico’s longtime leading mainland maritime link.
John P. Hourihan Jr., Crowley’s Jacksonville-based senior vice president and general manager for Puerto Rico services, pointed out that Crowley and TOTE and, to a lesser extent, Trailer Bridge, are making their investments in the trade despite the fact that the overall level of commerce has been declining in single digits annually for the past 10 years.
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