On Friday, Hawaii-based ocean carrier Matson took delivery of the Matsonia, the second of two new con/ro vessels built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. They are the largest vessels of the kind ever built in the United States, and they join Matson’s two new American-built container ships, the Daniel K. Inouye and Kaimana Hila – also the largest ships of their kind in the Jones Act fleet. 

“Putting four new ships into service in a three-year span is a significant accomplishment that culminates eight years of planning, project management and coordination for teams across many departments at Matson,” said Matt Cox, chairman and CEO. “Together with the modernization and expansion of our Honolulu terminal, these investments position Matson to provide efficient, reliable service to Hawaii for decades to come.”  

The Matsonia and Lurline are 870 feet long, with a beam of 114 feet and a draft of 38 feet. They have an enclosed garage with room for about 500 vehicles, plus space for rolling stock and breakbulk cargo. Lurline has been in service since January 2020.

Matson’s new Panamax containerships, Daniel K. Inouye and Kaimana Hila, were delivered by Philly Shipyard in 2018 and 2019. Each has a capacity of about 3,600 TEU. All four of the new ships were built with double-hull fuel tanks, LNG-capable engines and freshwater ballast systems. They are also Matson’s fastest vessels, with the ability to operate at or above 23 knots.

These four vessels make up the majority of a $1 billion investment that Matson has put into its Hawaii service. In addition to the $930 million shipbuilding program, Matson is also spending more than $60 million on improvements to its main terminal at Sand Island in Honolulu. Phase one of the terminal project was completed this year, with the installation of three new electrically powered gantry cranes and the upgrading of three existing cranes. Phase two includes improvements to the container yard and gate, and it will begin next year. When the State of Hawaii completes the new Kapalama Container Terminal, Matson will expand its terminal by 30 percent by acquiring two adjacent piers.

The names ‘Matsonia’ and ‘Lurline’ have a long history with Matson, and they both date back more than a century. The first Matsonia was built in 1912, and the new ship is the fifth. The first Lurline was built by Captain William Matson in 1887, and the new ship is the sixth to carry the name. 

Source: Maritime Executive