The Daniel K. Inouye, the first of four new dual-fuel container ships for the U.S. Pacific Jones Act trade, was delivered Wednesday to Honolulu-based Matson Inc.

Christened June 30 at Philly Shipyard in Philadelphia, the 854’, 50,794-dwt vessel has a capacity of 3,600 TEUs and 408 reefer slots.

It is the first of the Aloha class of diesel and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled ships, to be followed by another and then two of the 870’ Kanaloa class, with similar container capacity plus roll-on/roll-off for up to 800 vehicles, by 2020. The first two Aloha-class ships cost around $418 million, according to Matson.

“This new vessel, designed specifically to serve Hawaii and built with LNG-compatible engines, is the next generation of vessel and sets a new standard for cargo transportation in Hawaii. It also symbolizes Matson’s continuing commitment to serving our island home in the most efficient, effective and environmentally sound way into the future,” Matson chairman and CEO Matt Cox said at the June 30 christening.

Named in honor of Hawaii's late senior U.S. senator, the Inouye is the largest containership ever built in the United States, and the largest and fastest vessel in the Matson fleet, with a top speed in excess of 23 knots.

"This new ship, our fifth delivered by Philly Shipyard, is the product of a great partnership with the Philly team in designing and constructing a new class of containership that will set a new standard for cargo delivery in the Hawaii trade," said Ron Forest, President of Matson.

The ship will depart on its 5,298-mile, 13-day maiden voyage to Oakland, Calif., via the Panama Canal on Nov. 7, then enter commercial service Nov. 22. After a port call at Long Beach, Calif., the new vessel is scheduled to make its first call at Honolulu on the morning of Nov. 28.

Meanwhile, Matson officials announced they commenced a new service from the U.S. West Coast to the Marshall Islands, when the 707-TEU containership Kamokuiki (“small island or vessel” in the Hawaiian language) departed Honolulu Oct. 27 for a scheduled arrival at Kwajalein Nov. 3.

The 433.8’x63.6’, 8,627-dwt Kamokuiki, formerly named the Marstan, was built in Germany in 2000 and U.S. flagged in 2013. Matson acquired the vessel from Sealift Inc., Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Matson officials say the vessel is well suited to serving island communities with two 45-ton cranes onboard, hydraulic folding hatch covers and high maneuverability that allows docking without tugs.

Matson has served the Marshalls since 1972 and currently calls at Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro from the U.S. West Coast via Guam, where westbound containerized and bulk cargo is transshipped to Matson's Micronesia service.  The new service from the U.S. West Coast to Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro via Honolulu will deliver cargo with a transit time of approximately two weeks, compared to three weeks or more with the current service.

The company says the new service offers advantages of dedicated terminal operations at Seattle, Oakland and Long Beach, offering shippers late cut-off times, industry-leading truck turn times and use of Matson's extensive owned chassis inventory.

“Matson has been consistently rated the number-one ocean carrier in the world because of its commitment to operating the fastest and most reliable service in the markets we serve,” said John Lauer, chief commercial officer.  “We are excited to bring U.S. flag service and shorter transit times from the U.S. West Coast to Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro.”


Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.