Jacksonville: US shipping agent Sea Star Line has added a new on-hire barge to ply its routes between Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico, it was announced on Monday.
It’s the latest pro-active move by the company as it tries to plug a market gap left by rival Horizon Lines, which closed down its Puerto Rico container service at the end of 2014, ending a 56-year connection.
Sea Star Line had already added two other barges in January with a total capacity of 750 feu with dedicated space for 84 refrigerated containers.
Now the new ship adds another 320 dry units. Its initial departure is set for the first week in April.
The firm offers international shipping services between the southeast US and the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
So far this year Sea Star Line has hired or purchased over 2,300 pieces of equipment, including dry and refrigerated containers, chassis and generators. The additional fleet means the line can accommodate more than 520 refrigerated containers weekly.
And in October it will deploy two new liquefied natural gas-powered Marlin Class vessels, each with 3,100 teu and each accommodating 268 refrigerated containers. They will be the world’s first LNG-powered containerships and will be dedicated solely to the Puerto Rico trade.
“We recognise the void left by the departure of Horizon Lines and it is Sea Star’s goal to support the demands of the Puerto Rico market,” Sea Star Line President Tim Nolan said in a statement. “We are confident the additional barge capacity and new Marlin Class vessels will support both the immediate and long term shipping requirements for the island.”