General Dynamics Nassco said early this week that it has signed a contract with Totem Ocean Trailer Express to design a new liquefied natural gas propulsion system for two ships in the TOTE fleet.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The contract was for design work only.

Under the deal, Nassco will design the conversion of TOTE’s Orca-class trailer ships from diesel electric propulsion to liquefied natural gas propulsion. Nassco built the commercial ships in its Barrio Logan shipyard, delivering both in 2003.

“We know the ships,” said Nassco spokesman Jim Gill.

TOTE operates the ships between Washington state and Alaska.

Carriers such as TOTE face mandates to reduce emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and particulate matter.

It is not the only business Nassco has with TOTE. The shipyard announced in December that TOTE placed an order for two new LNG-powered container vessels. Construction is expected to begin in 2014.

— SDBJ Staff Report