SUEZ LNG NA LLC (SUEZ) announced an agreement with the U.S. Maritime Administration designed
to begin generating employment opportunities for U.S. mariners onboard liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels.
The transport of LNG between countries to meet natural gas needs is a burgeoning international industry, with the international (privately
owned) LNG shipping fleet growing at a rate of 15-20% a year.
All LNG ships worldwide are flagged under non-U.S. countries.
SUEZ' ships, for example, are flagged primarily under Norway and Spain.
As a result, there are no U.S.-licensed mariners on these vessels, and the U.S. shipping industry does not currently share in this growing job market.
Through a conference call with reporters, Sean T. Connaughton, U.S.
Maritime Administrator said, "We are pleased to announce this commitment and the innovative public/private partnership with SUEZ - the first of its kind in this international industry. The growth of LNG shipments, both to the U.S. and globally, has created an opportunity for American mariners to work onboard foreign-flagged LNG vessels. We hope our agreement with SUEZ sparks a new era of U.S. involvement in the LNG shipping trade."
Under the agreement, SUEZ has agreed to provide training opportunities for both U.S. citizen officers and cadets to obtain the experience and sea time necessary to qualify as LNG officers. In addition, SUEZ pledged its efforts to employ a mix of U.S. trained officers and unlicensed mariners on its existing fleet of chartered LNG vessels as well as those under construction and at the Neptune LNG Deepwater Port project.