February 9, 2006
Matson to give box ship ro-ro capacity
Shipyards in the U.S. and beyond will soon get a bid package from Matson Navigation Company, Inc. The company is proceeding with the first conversion of one of its C-9 containerships, MV Mokihana, to a combination roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) and container vessel to further strengthen its Hawaii service capabilities.
With the conversion, the vessel--originally delivered from Avondale Shipyards in 1983--will have ro-ro and container capacity comparable to two vessels in Matson's service today, the dedicated ro-ro vessel Great Land and the containership S.S. Lihue. It is one of three C-9's acquired from APL in 1995.
The new garage will have the capacity to carry 1,350 vehicles. The plan is part of a multi-phase program that began in 2003 and is designed to provide Matson's auto customers with frequency of service and ro-ro capacity.
The total cost for this phase of the project, which includes construction of the garage, expansion of the company's interisland barge capacity, shoreside facility improvements and investments in new information technology for auto shipments, is estimated to be $45 million, with completion by mid-2007.
"Matson's C-9s are the largest vessels in our fleet and are diesel-powered, making them more fuel efficient," said Dave Hoppes, senior vice president, ocean services. "By adding garage capacity, the combination vessel will provide the fastest and most economical method of shipping vehicles, with one vessel transporting the equivalent capacity of two ships in our service today. The new garage units will have all of the features of a pure car carrier, including a fully enclosed garage, ventilation, lighting and various safety components to minimize damage in transit."
The converted ship will join Matson's two other combination ro-ro/containerships in the company's Hawaii service in 2007.
Matson, which introduced ro-ro service to Hawaii in 1973, is the state's leading carrier for both containers and automobiles.
Matson's previously stated long-term strategy is to continue to add state-of-the-art ro-ro capacity to meet the Hawaii auto market's demands. Since 2003, Matson has more than tripled its ro-ro capacity, as a result of chartering the dedicated ro-ro vessel Great Land and adding an above deck garage to the S.S. Lurline. The conversion of the Mokihana will further that progress.
"Matson has done a great deal of research and evaluation pertaining to the value of operating a pure car carrier versus a combination ro-ro/container vessel," said Hoppes. "We're confident that the combination approach is best from both an economic and service perspective. By having multiple combination ro-ro/container vessels, Matson can offer greater frequency of service than it could with a single car carrier. In addition, because the auto market in Hawaii is prone to volume fluctuations, the vessel's capacity and associated revenue are not tied solely to vehicle shipments."