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Important U.S. economic, security and safety interests, not to mention good-paying middle-class jobs, were highlighted at the January 30th christening of the Jones Act tanker Florida. Commissioned by the Crowley Corporation, the new vessel was built at the historic Aker Philadelphia Shipyard. The event also was a vivid reminder of the benefits that can occur when management and labor cooperate towards achieving common goals.

Thanking maritime labor for its contributions to the industry and praising the excellence of unionized workers, Tom Crowley, president and CEO of Crowley, talked about his company’s commitment to the U.S. maritime industry and the Jones Act. Crowley noted that his company has made the decision to modernize its tanker fleet with the Florida being the latest example.

“Adding these new tankers to our fleet allows us to continue providing our customers with diverse and modern equipment to transport their petroleum and chemical products in safe and reliable manner,” stated Crowley.

“I recall that one of my grandfather’s missions for the company included making investments that would not only help the company grow, but also provide jobs for people, which is something we have carried to this day, and why we continue to support the Jones Act and our U.S. shipbuilding partners, including Aker.”

Deputy Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen also spoke at the ceremony. He noted that the christening of the Florida was a particularly important event because the country’s energy sector is undergoing a rapid expansion.

According to him, “This ship I well-timed.  Jones Act vessels are the lifeblood for domestic oil trade, and today we’ve strengthened the fleet.”

Praising Crowley’s forward thinking stance towards expansion of its Jones Act fleet, Jaenichen noted, “As we celebrate the maiden voyage of this particular vessel, let us highlight what it means to our industry and the well-paying jobs for hard-working Americans. This country depends on a strong U.S.-flag fleet. It’s not only vital to the global and domestic trades, but it’s essential to keeping our country prosperous, secure and safe.”

The Florida is the 17th vessel built at Aker since it was revived a decade ago. The MTD worked with then Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, members of Congress and other representatives of maritime labor to reopen this historic facility, which had been forced to shut its door. Since its rebirth, the shipyard has generated millions of dollars in tax revenue for the locale and created thousands of jobs for workers in the region.

Aker President and CEO Kristian Rokke added, “(I am) filled with pride at what the men and women of this yard have produced …Wherever this ship travels, it will make a tangible statement that she’s a citizen of America, a product of American workmanship and a symbol of what this great shipyard can achieve.”