Changing the design of a brand-new oil tanker to allow for a different brand of engine is no simple matter. So what convinced Aker Philadelphia Shipyard to make the switch to MaK™ generator sets in the four vessels it’s currently building for Crowley Maritime? Quality products and dealer service certainly played key roles—but the biggest factor turned out to be a 20-year-plus relationship with Cat Financial.
“Our relationship with Aker Philadelphia dates back to the early 1990s, when its current owner moved to Alaska to start a fishing business,” says Jim Flanagan, a marine, oil and gas sales manager with Cat Financial. “We grew up alongside one another. They know us; we know them. As a result, we’ve provided financing for a majority of the ships they’ve built in Philadelphia over the years.”
Because the Crowley Maritime vessels are oil tankers, however, this situation was different. Much of the world’s oil tanker market is based in Korea, so when Aker Philadelphia purchased a standard design from a Korean company, the tankers were already spec’d with competitive engines.
“Any change in a base design requires a substantial amount of re-engineering,” says Carl Marinelli, business development manager for Atlantic Cat, the Cat® dealer that sold the generator sets and is providing service and support. “Cat Financial, Caterpillar Marine and our dealership worked closely together to convince the customer of the benefits of going with Caterpillar and MaK.”
That team effort paid off. Aker Philadelphia selected 12 MaK 6 M 20 C generator sets for auxiliary power—three per oil tanker—with Cat Financial providing construction loans for all four vessels. And the shipyard has since purchased 12 more MaK generator sets for another fleet of four oil tankers it’s building for Kinder Morgan.
“They recognize the robustness of the MaK product versus other similar products in the marketplace,” Marinelli says. “Caterpillar is known to build products to last and to withstand the harsh marine environment.”
Ultimately, though, it was Aker Philadelphia’s longstanding relationship with Cat Financial that sealed the deal.
“Without Cat Financial, it would have been a battle against a proven design,” Marinelli says. “Cat Financial was the pivotal element that allowed our customer to consider our products.”
For Cat Financial, building a 20-year (or longer) relationship with a customer isn’t unusual.
“Banks are in and out. They get sold. We try to be a consistent source of financial support for our customers,” Flanagan says. “Excellent products, great dealer service and flexible financing—with Caterpillar, you get the whole package. We work with our customers to find solutions that open new doors.”