The launch of the Perla Del Caribe at the NASSCO shipyard in Barrio Logan. Courtesy of NASSCO

General Dynamics NASSCO launched the second in a fleet of natural gas-power container ships on Saturday, sending the Perla Del Caribe into San Diego bay in a rare public ceremony.

Alcinda Buirds, a 32-year NASSCO employee, pulled the trigger to release the 764-foot long ship into the bay at high tide.

A crowd gathered at the shipyard in Barrio Logan to the see the launch and celebratory fireworks afterward.

Bow of the Perla Del Caribe. Courtesy of NASSCO

“To NASSCO shipbuilders, a launch signals the near completion of the construction of a ship; it’s when the ship enters the ocean for the very first time. It’s a moment of pride for the thousands of men and women who built the ship – piece by piece, block by block,” said Kevin Graney, vice president and general manager of NASSCO.

The Marlin-class vessel, and a similar one launched in April, are the world’s first container ships to be powered by clean liquefied natural gas, or LNG.

The technology will reduce the ship’s emissions of particulate matter by 98 percent and carbon dioxide by 72 percent — the equivalent of removing more than 15,700 cars from the road, according to NASSCO.

The LNG container ships were built for the shipping firm TOTE, which plans to use them for cargo runs between Jacksonville, FL, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Over the past decade, NASSCO has delivered 11 commercial ships and has orders for 10 more. It also delivered 17 ships to the Navy

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.