Matson picks Philly Shipyard for $1B containership order

Daniel K. Inouye ship

HONOLULU — Matson Navigation Co. has contracted with Philly Shipyard to build three new Aloha-class containerships for an aggregate price of approximately $1 billion.

The first vessel is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2026 with subsequent deliveries in 2027. The new vessels will join two Aloha-class ships previously built for Matson by Philly Shipyard that entered service in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Daniel K. Inouye ship
The first Aloha-class containership Daniel K. Inouye berthed in Honolulu in early 2019. Photo by Casey Conley

Like their sister ships, the new vessels will be equipped with dual fuel engines that are designed to operate on either conventional marine fuels or liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as other “green ship technology” features, such as a fuel-efficient hull design and environmentally safe double-hull fuel tanks and freshwater ballast systems.

While the earlier ships require some modification to operate with LNG, the new ships will be delivered LNG-ready.

“Our existing Aloha-class ships are among the fastest, most efficient vessels in the Matson fleet,” said Matt Cox, chairman and chief executive officer. “These new Jones Act-compliant vessels will be built specifically for our China-Long Beach Express (CLX) service, and like their sister ships, are expected to help Matson achieve its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal while also providing additional capacity and speed benefitting our Hawaii service as well as the CLX.”

The 854-foot Aloha class vessels are the largest containerships ever built in the U.S. They are outfitted to carry 3,600 twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) and can sail at speeds exceeding 23 knots.

The order for three new Aloha-class ships follows delivery in 2020 and 2021 of the 870-foot Kanaloa-class container/roll-on, roll-off (ConRo) ships build by General Dynamics NASSCO. Those two vessels, Lurline and Matsonia, are the largest ConRo ships ever built in the United States.

Prior to Matson’s first two Aloha-class ships, Philly Shipyard delivered four newly-built Jones Act containerships for Matson between 2003 and 2006.

“It is the ultimate compliment when a former customer returns for another project. We are proud of the six vessels previously delivered to Matson, and are again ready to execute and deliver this important project.” said Steinar Nerbovik, Philly Shipyard president and chief executive officer.

The three new Aloha-class ships will replace three vessels currently deployed in Matson’s CLX service, which will in turn replace three older vessels currently deployed in its Alaska service, redeploying bigger and faster vessels into that trade lane.

Matson expects to finance the new vessels with cash currently in its capital construction fund and through cash flows from operations, borrowings available under the company’s unsecured revolving credit facility and additional debt financings.

— Matson Inc.

By Casey Conley