Horizon Lines begins operating five ships built in South Korea but flagged in the U.S

Horizon Hawk, a new 2,824-TEU containership, arrives in Tacoma, Wash., on its maiden voyage. It is one of five ships built in South Korea that Horizon Lines will operate under the U.S. flag. (Horizon Lines)

Horizon Hawk, the first of five new U.S.-flagged containerships operated by Horizon Lines, made its maiden call in the United States on March 30 with a port call in Tacoma, Wash.

The 2,824-TEU vessel, along with its four sister ships, will be providing Horizon’s TP1 trans-Pacific container service that calls, westbound, on Tacoma; Oakland, Calif.; Honolulu; Guam; Hong Kong and Kaohslung, China; then, eastbound, returns directly to Tacoma.

Horizon Hawk is the first of five Hunter Class containerships delivered by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in South Korea. The 725-foot-long ship is powered by a MAN B&W 7K80MC-C diesel engine rated at 33,887 hp, giving the ship a service speed of 24 knots. The Hunter Class ships have been chartered by Horizon from the subsidiaries of Ship Finance International, Inc.

“All new Hunter class ships took on first slot charter loads with Maersk freight in Hong Kong and Kaohslung, China, before sailing for their maiden U.S. call in Tacoma, Wash. The first calls for the Horizon Hunter were April 6, the Horizon Eagle on April 27, Horizon Falcon on May 18, and the Horizon Tiger will be June 29,” according to Horizon spokesman Gordon Forsyth.

The registration port of the new U.S.-crewed ships is Wilmington, Del., and the U.S.-flagging ceremonies took place at the Mipo shipyard.

Because the new ships are foreign built, they cannot carry U.S. cargo limited to vessels that meet the requirements of the Jones Act.

Before delivery of Horizon Hawk, Horizon Lines owned 16 U.S.-flagged, Jones Act containerships. Of these, 15 were regularly deployed, while one was usually kept in reserve to fill in for ships needing repairs or maintenance.

The new vessels will replace the Jones Act vessels previously used for Horizon’s TP1 services. Operating economies are important, and the new ships are faster and more efficient than the 20-year-old Jones Act vessels previously on the trans-Pacific routes.
The older Jones Act ships will continue to make regular runs from the West Coast to Hawaii and Alaska and from the East Coast to Puerto Rico. Horizon Lines also sees potential for its Jones Act containerships in domestic coastal shipping, or short-sea shipping markets, as they are known in the industry.

In April at the Journal of Commerce Short Seas Shipping Conference in Orlando, Fla., Charles G. Raymond, president and chief executive of Horizon Lines, said, “It is no longer a question of if our nation’s transport infrastructure will start to fail but when. Short sea is not the only answer, but an answer we must explore now. Ocean shipping continues to be the most environmentally sensitive and cost-effective mode of transportation.”

Short-sea shipping has “a few legislative hurdles to clear,” Raymond said, noting that the five new ships will free up vessels that could be used as early as 2008 for short-sea shipping on the East and Gulf coasts.

With the arrival of the new ships, one or more of the older ships could be laid up later in 2007, according to the Seafarers International Union, but overall the union believes that “job security received a boost” with the entry of the new U.S.-flagged ships.
Horizon Lines said the future of the older ships depends on a number of considerations, including shifts in cargo routing, the need for backup vessels to replace ships that are taken temporarily out of service for maintenance or repairs and growth in short-sea traffic.

By Professional Mariner Staff