Honolulu-based Matson christened the second of its new Aloha-class container vessels March 9 in Philadelphia, concluding a $418 million project at Philly Shipyard that is just the first phase of what will be a four-ship fleet for the Hawaii trade.

The Kaimana Hila' is sistership to the Daniel K. Inouye which was christened in June3 2018 and has been in service since November, Kaimana Hila is a Hawaiian transliteration for "Diamond Head," the landmark volcanic cone that looms above Honolulu. The 854’, 50,794-dwt vessels carry up to 3,600 standard 20’ TEU containers and have 408 reefer slots to carry cargo between Matson terminals in Seattle and Oakland and Long Beach, Calif..

They are the largest container ships ever built in a U.S. shipyard, and the first dual-fuel ships for the islands that can operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet new air emissions requirements, a major factor in the retirement of older vessels in the Hawaii trade. Other safety and environmental features include double hull fuel tanks and a fresh water ballast system. More efficient hull design helps give the ships 24-knot speeds.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, breaks a ceremonial bottle of champagne to christen Matson’s new containership Kaimana Hila on March 9, 2019. Matson photo

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, breaks a ceremonial bottle of champagne to christen Matson’s new containership Kaimana Hila on March 9, 2019. Matson photo

The Aloha ships will be followed up by the Kanaloa class, a pair of 870’ vessels with similar cargo capacity, plus roll-on/roll-off for up to 800 vehicles to be in service by 2020.

Matson invited Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, to christen the vessel by breaking a ceremonial bottle of champagne against the ship's navigation bridge superstructure during a ceremony attended by about 70 people from Matson and Philly Shipyard. The ceremony was attended by approximately 70 representatives of Matson and Philly Shipyard. .

"This is a proud day for everyone at Matson," said Matt Cox, Matson's chairman and chief executive officer, at the shipyard ceremony. "Daniel K. Inouye has performed well in its first four months of service, and we are excited to have Kaimana Hila joining it soon.  These new vessels herald the beginning of a new era in our Hawaii service and will allow us to serve our customers better than ever for decades to come."

Steinar Nerbovik, Philly Shipyard President and CEO, said, "I'd like to extend my gratitude to Matson. Construction of the Kaimana Hila, and its earlier sistership, has provided good skilled work for nearly 1,500 people at Philly Shipyard over the last three years. We are immensely proud to provide another quality and safe vessel that Matson can be proud of for years to come."

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.