Crowley was founded in 1892 when founder Thomas Crowley, the grandfather of current (as of June, 2010) Chairman, President and CEO Thomas B. Crowley, Jr., purchased an 18-foot Whitehall Rowboat to provide transportation of personnel and supplies to ships anchored on San Francisco Bay. Within a few years, services broadened to include bay wing and ship assistance services. In addition to acquiring larger vessels, the company expanded in the 1920s into Los Angeles Harbor with tugboats for ship assists and into Puget Sound with tug and barge transportation. Bulk petroleum transportation joined the list of company services in 1939.
In 1958, Crowley moved into Arctic transportation with an agreement to resupply the U.S. government’s Distant Early Warning Line on the Alaska coastline. It was the first penetration of the Arctic by commercial tug and barge services. This led to Crowley’s Alaska common carrier services whereby railcar, breakbulk, containerized and bulk petroleum cargoes were delivered to more than 130 villages, many of which lacked docking facilities.
Beginning in 1968, utilizing the earlier pioneering experience in the Arctic, Crowley began summer sealifts of equipment, supplies, buildings and production modules to Prudhoe Bay. Since then, 334 barges carrying nearly 1.3 million tons of cargo have been successfully delivered to the North Slope, including modules the size of ten story buildings and weighing nearly 6,000 tons.
In the 1970s, Crowley began transporting cargo between the U.S. and Puerto Rico and later expanded into the rest of the Caribbean, Central America and South America. The service primarily consisted of ships and large, triple-deck barges, some of which were 730 feet in length, carrying cargo in trailers and containers.
In 1987, Crowley was fined $800,000 by the Alaska Attorney General for violating Alaska's antitrust laws relating to fuel sales in Dillingham, Alaska and the surrounding area.
In 1989, Crowley tugs were first on the scene of the crippled tanker Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The Exxon Valdez oil spill was the second largest in U.S. history (after Deepwater Horizon, 2010) and Crowley was the prime supplier of marine equipment and personnel for the cleanup. To try to avoid future disasters, the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company contracted with Crowley to provide tanker assistance and escort work in Valdez and Prince William Sound using tugs with “best available technology.”
In mid-1994, the top leadership of the corporation changed for only the second time in more than 100 years. Following the passing of his father, Thomas B. Crowley, Jr. was unanimously elected president, chairman of the board, and chief executive officer.
In January 2010, Crowley Liner Services reached an undisclosed settlement with plaintiffs (shippers) who had alleged violations of United States and Puerto Rican antitrust laws. The company publicly denied violating the antitrust laws but said it wanted to be rid of the high cost and burden of litigation, which they expected to continue for several more years.
In 2011, Crowley was fined $17,000,000 and plead guilty to one federal price fixing charge for conduct arising out of illegal agreements between Crowley and its competitors in the Puerto Rico freight market. Despite the settlement, in May 2015, a Puerto Rican jury acquitted Thomas Farmer, former vice president of price and yield management for Crowley Liner Services, of violating the Sherman Act by allegedly conspiring to suppress and eliminate competition for freight services to the island.
In the last 20 years, Crowley has shed some of its businesses, including its Red & White Fleet passenger ferry services in San Francisco and its South America shipping services, while expanding in other areas through a series of acquisitions. Crowley bought Marine Transport Corporation, a petroleum and chemical transportation company; Speed Cargo Services, a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC); Apparel Transportation, a Central America logistics services provider to the apparel industry, Yukon Fuel Company and Service Oil and Gas, which are Alaska-based fuel distribution and sales companies, TITAN Salvage, a worldwide salvage and emergency response company, Jensen Maritime Consultants, a Seattle-based Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering firm, and Customized Brokers, a Miami-based customs clearance company specializing in perishable, refrigerated cargoes.
Crowley has expanded its petroleum carrying capabilities in recent years with the construction of four new 155,000-barrel articulated tug barge (ATB) tank vessels and ten 185,000-barrel ATBs, the last of which was delivered in 2011. In 2007, the company placed orders for three, 330,000-barrel ATBs, which are scheduled for delivery by mid-2013.
The business was incorporated in the State of Delaware as "Crowley Maritime Corporation" on December 1, 1972. The present structure, in which Crowley Maritime Corporation is a holding company for the business lines, was put in place in 1992. The Company is predominantly owned by members of the Crowley family and company employees, and its stock does not trade on any national stock exchange or in any market. Revenue in 2009 was nearly $1.6 billion.
Crowley provides diversified transportation services in domestic and international markets by means of six operating lines of business: Puerto Rico/Caribbean Liner Services, Latin America Liner Services, Logistics Services, Petroleum and Chemical Transportation, Petroleum Distribution and Contract Services and Technical Services.
The primary services offered by these six business lines include:
Crowley operates ocean cargo carrier services between the United States and Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Central America, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. Services include regularly scheduled liner operations for cargo shipped in containers and/or trailers; rolling stock such as cars, trucks, buses and construction equipment; breakbulk, heavy lift and over-dimensional items via their fleet of specialty equipment and Lo/Lo and Ro/Ro vessels.
As a third-party logistics provider (3PL), Crowley offers supply chain management and transportation management services including: freight forwarding, ocean, inland, and air transportation, customs house brokerage, cargo insurance and warehousing and distribution. The company's U.S. Trucking and Distribution Center serves as the heart of its logistics framework, enabling clients to combine and tailor services as needed, and tap into the company's materials and shipment tracking technology. In 2008, Crowley acquired Miami-based Customized Brokers, a customs clearance company specializing in refrigerated cargoes arriving by air and sea, to further build its customs brokerage business.
Crowley has long-term relationships with many of the world's energy companies, providing them with creative solutions to their most difficult exploration and production challenges. The company provides upstream logistics, shorebase services, ocean towing and transportation, marine engineering, offshore construction support, Alaska Energy support services, specialized cargo transport, remote crude storage and Environmental, Safety and Quality Assurance.
Crowley has also developed a unique system for transporting cargos and personnel to remote road less areas, across Alaska's fragile arctic tundra, using specialized all-terrain vehicles called CATCOs that essentially float across the fragil tundra with low-pressure air bags. These tires help distribute the weight over a large area thus minimizing terrain impact. Crowley operation areas extend from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico to Sakhalin Island in the Russia Far East.
Crowley's project management group manages logistics for complex construction, engineering and infrastructure projects. Capabilities include project management, project logistics, subcontractor vetting, selection and management, web-enabled material tracking, comprehensive marine transportation for single pallet up to a 6,000-ton module, and beach/job site landing design. The group also provides heavy lift discharge and delivery, inland transportation and logistics, air freight services, industry leading health, safety and environmental programs, and global site logistics.
Crowley provides ocean towing, transportation and logistics services for general cargo movements, offshore production components, including jackets and modules, ship tows and other projects requiring heavy lift or specialized marine transportation services.
Crowley is one of the largest independent operators of petroleum barges and tankers in the U.S. The company provides chemical parcel transportation and bulk petroleum transportation throughout the North American coasts, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and to a lesser degree internationally. Crowley's tank vessels include ships, articulated tug and barge units (ATBs), and conventional tug and barges. Ships and articulated barges range in size from 20,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) to 50,000 DWT, while Crowleys U.S. West Coast coastal tank barges and Alaska line haul fleet range from 5,500 DWT to 16,200 DWT. All Crowley tank vessels operate under ISM / ISO 9002 standards.
Crowley has served the people and businesses of Alaska's Arctic and coastal area, handling fuel and freight beginning in 1896 as Black Navigation, sailing in Prince William Sound and expanding service to the Yukon River and Tanana River in 1916. The company serves the State of Alaska, from the North Arctic Slope to South Central Alaska, coastal communities, and inland communities, including those along the Kuskokwim River and Yukon River. Over the past several years, Crowley's coverage has increased to include sales and delivery of lubricants and other petroleum products along the central Alaska highway system. The company also transports general cargo on our combination fuel and freight barges between our marine/fuel terminals and remote sites.
Crowley owns and operates one of the most advanced fleets of ship assist and escort tugs in the world. Harbor towing services in Oakland, San Diego and Los Angeles, California, as well as Seattle and Tacoma, Washington consist of escort and docking services for tankers, container ships and other vessels as they enter and depart from the harbors. Tugs in Valdez, Alaska and North Puget Sound assist large tankers and provide both tethered and untethered escort services. Crowley tugs based in these areas are outfitted for firefighting services, and barges based in Valdez also provide oil spill response services.
TITAN Salvage, a Crowley company, was a worldwide marine salvage and wreck removal company based in Houston, Texas, that performed over 350 salvage and wreck removal projects, including some of the most technically demanding projects ever undertaken. The company also had offices and equipment depots in Newhaven, U.K. and Singapore. In addition to marine salvage and wreck removal services, TITAN performed marine firefighting, vessel/ship lightering, underwater fuel removal, damage stability and other rapid marine emergency response services for the maritime industry..
On 21 April 2012, it was announced TITAN, with its partner company, Micoperi, an Italian firm specializing in subsea engineering solutions, had been awarded the contract by Costa Crociere to refloat and tow away the Costa Concordia to the port of Genoa to be scrapped.
On 21 April 2015, Crowley and A.P. Moller–Maersk Group announced the merger of their respective salvage divisions, TITAN and Svitzer Salvage, to form a company operating as Ardent. Ardent is based in Houston and its chief executive officer is Mr. Peter Pietka.
Crowley's technical services group provides a full range of services from vessel concept design and shipyard management to operation, repair and maintenance of the vessel after delivery; customers can utilize Crowley throughout the entire life of a vessel or for selective services at any point in the process. In 2008, to further build its marine technical services business, Crowley acquired Seattle-based Jensen Maritime Consultants, a naval architecture and marine engineering firm with more than 45 years experience designing and engineering a variety of different commercial vessels, including fishing boats, fireboats, patrol boats, ferries and tugboats.
Crowley is a vessel manager operating its own fleet as well as vessels for government and commercial clients for over 100 years. The group can handle a variety of ship management services, including chartering, maintenance and repair, crewing, Safety, Quality and Environmental Assurance, vetting, insurance, procurement, drydocking, regulatory surveys, bunkering and accounting.
On September 21, 2011 a Crowley Maritime barge carrying 140,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 5,800 gallons of gasoline broke away from a tugboat during rough seas near the western coast of Alaska. Control of the barge was regained later that afternoon.