It has been six months since Hurricane Maria crashed into Puerto Rico leaving a path of destruction and misery. And since then, Crowley Maritime Corporation’s liner services and logistics teams, working with government and commercial customers, have played and will continue to play an integral role in the recovery.
Crowley has provided a constant transportation and logistics pipeline to the island since the storm made landfall Sept. 20 – unloading more than 200 vessels in 182 days, with cargo consisting of nearly 40,000 commercial loads and 8,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) loads. This new video recaps some of the successful work to date, while capturing the emotion of those dedicated Crowley employees who have worked so hard to help the island most of them call home begin to heal.
In addition to food, water and other basic humanitarian and commercial supplies, Crowley has transported and delivered a combination of more than 40,000 power poles; 7,000 electrical transformers; 10 million miles of wire and cable; and platforms and utility reconstruction equipment and vehicles to help rebuild the electrical infrastructure, which was devastated beyond repair in some areas. The company also handled multiple bridge sections and a 119,000-pound drill to support the roadway reconstruction efforts in the Utuado region.
“I am very grateful for the extraordinary work of our teams in San Juan, Jacksonville and in other parts of the country,” said Tom Crowley, chairman and CEO. “Many of our employees have friends and family that were directly affected by the disaster and many are residents of Puerto Rico themselves. Their tireless commitment and focus on finding solutions that make an impact continues to be truly impressive and deserving of our respect and appreciation. As a company, we have long since been committed to the people and businesses of Puerto Rico, through the good times and the challenging ones, this response is an extension of that.”
To handle the influx of government relief cargo while still servicing the needs of its contracted commercial customers, Crowley’s Puerto Rico Services team expanded the company’s vessel fleet from nine to 16, including the addition of two company-owned and retrofitted, heavy-lift, flat-deck barges. The larger fleet helped to ensure almost daily vessel arrivals and upped carriage capacity by 67 percent.
“It’s not just the fact of working a vessel, of opening a terminal, it’s the fact that every time a load was delivered, it meant food on the table of the people of Puerto Rico,” said Jose “Pache” Ayala, vice president, Puerto Rico Services. “It really meant that Crowley was part of a big effort to save lives.”
The logistics group also secured additional warehouse space, doubling its square footage in Puerto Rico, to help process and expedite delivery of needed supplies, and dispatched 50 relief trucks to deliver only relief supplies at various distribution centers around the island right after the storm. They also added 5,000 extra containers and hundreds of additional chassis to the Puerto Rico equipment fleet.
Crowley Fuels, the company’s Alaska-based petroleum transportation, distribution and sales group, also spent several months supporting the mobilization of Foster Fuels, an emergency response fuel supply contractor for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). Crowley carried more than 130 fuel trucks aboard a Crowley liner services vessel, with multiple follow-up deliveries in subsequent sailings to provide additional material and resources. And, due to the overwhelming demand for CDL/HAZMAT-certified fuel truck drivers in the area, six qualified fuel truck drivers from the company’s Alaska operations were dispatched to the island where they performed a combined total of 2,200 hours distributing fuel to businesses and residents.
Crowley, which has about 300 Puerto Rico employees, has served the market since 1954, longer than any other Jones Act carrier in the trade.
“We will continue to work with our customers in Puerto Rico and stateside, including FEMA, to provide them with reliable services to meet the recovery needs of Puerto Rico’s businesses and residents,” said John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico services. “We will be with the people of Puerto Rico for as long as it takes to bring the island back. We are fully invested with new ships coming on line this year, new port terminal facilities, cranes and the like, so people need to know that we will be with them far into the future.”
“As a full supply chain services provider, we understand that services from the port onward- including warehousing and final-mile deliveries – are crucial to meet the needs of the people and businesses of Puerto Rico,” said Frank Larkin, senior vice president and general manager, logistics and commercial services. “From containerized relief cargo to oversized, breakbulk shipments utilizing multiple transportation modes and meeting all permit requirements, we’ve been able to develop the most efficient solutions to help start restoring the island.”