Matson’s new container/ro-ro ship is biggest ever built in US

Matson's new ship Lurline

Matson Inc. said it had taken delivery of the container/roll-on, roll-off (con-ro) ship Lurline on Dec. 26.

Built at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, it is the largest con-ro ever built in the United States. A sister ship, Matsonia, is also under construction at NASSCO and is expected to be delivered in the second quarter of 2020. Matson said it is paying approximately $500 million for the pair.

The new con-ro ships will replace older container ships that Matson modified by adding car decks.

Along with two container ships that were built at Philly Shipyard and delivered in 2018 and 2019, the con-ros are part of a fleet renewal project. By adding these larger, more modern ships, Matson said, it will be able to replace its current 10-ship deployment between Seattle, Oakland and Long Beach to Honolulu with a nine-ship deployment.

Lurline will make its maiden voyage to Hawaii next month, departing Oakland and Long Beach on Jan. 9 and 11, respectively, and arriving in Honolulu on Jan. 15.

Lurline is 870 feet long, 114 feet wide (beam), with a deep draft of 38 feet. It is now Matson’s largest ship. It is also one of Matson’s fastest vessels, with a top speed of 23 knots, which Matson said will help ensure on-time deliveries in Hawaii.

The two new ships are each built on what the company says is a “3,500 TEU vessel platform,” but part of that capacity is taken up by an enclosed garage with room for approximately 500 vehicles, plus rolling stock and breakbulk cargo.

The ships also feature a fuel-efficient hull design, environmentally safe double hull fuel tanks, fresh water ballast systems and the first Tier 3 dual fuel engines to be deployed in container ships serving West Coast ports.

Both new vessels will enter service fully compliant with new International Maritime Organization (IMO) emission regulations going into effect Jan. 1, 2020. Under the latest IMO requirements for engine manufacturers, Tier 3 engines reduce the levels of particulate emissions by 40% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 20%, as compared to Tier 2 standards.

Brad Dechter, the president of the forwarder and NVOCC DHX-Dependable Hawaii Express, said the new ships will make Matson more competitive for roll-on, roll-off cargo and outsize cargo that now moves on the ships of Pasha Hawaii, Matson’s principal competitor to Hawaii.

Pasha moves both container and roll-on, roll-off cargo using a fleet that includes container ships, a con-ro and a pure roll-on, roll-off vessel. Pasha has two new con-ro ships under construction at the Keppel AmFELS shipyard in Brownsville, Texas.