Matson continues fleet renewal with versatile Kanaloa-class ships
Professional Mariner|Annual American Ship Review 2021
Matson Navigation has a proud history in the Pacific dating back more than a century. The 870-foot container/roll-on, roll-off (conro) Lurline will build on that legacy well into the future.
Casey Conley

Lurline is the first of two Kanaloaclass ships built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering collaborated with NASSCO on the design for Lurline and Matsonia, a sister ship scheduled for delivery later this year. The vessels are the largest con-ros ever built in the United States.

Lurline has a covered garage on the aft deck to transport up to 500 vehicles plus rolling stock, and room for 2,750 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers (TEU). With a top speed of 23 knots, it is one of Matson’s fastest ships, and also its largest and most versatile.

The Kanaloa-class ships are among the “greenest” U.S.-flagged cargo vessels. For instance, Lurline is one of the first ships calling on West Coast ports equipped with an IMO Tier III-certified engine. That 42,738-hp MAN engine also can be converted to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Matson, based in Honolulu, is named for Swedish-born Capt. William Matson. He arrived in San Francisco as a teenager in 1867 and earned a name for himself sailing around San Francisco Bay. Those exploits brought him into contact with the wealthy Spreckels family.

Matson clearly made an impression on the industrialists, who hired him to skipper the family yacht, Lurline. In 1882, the family helped him launch his namesake shipping company, Matson Navigation Co. The company’s first vessel, Emma Claudina, carried building materials west to Hawaii and returned brimming with sugar grown on the islands.

Matson Navigation set many West Coast maritime milestones over the years. The schooner Roderick Dhu earned worldwide acclaim for its electric lights and onboard cold storage plant. Matson’s Enterprise was the first oil-powered steamship engaged in the Pacific trade. The company built its first steamer in 1908, also named Lurline, and later embarked on a passenger transport service to Hawaii and the South Pacific.

Modern-day Matson is focused on the Jones Act market, with an emphasis on Hawaii, Alaska and U.S. Pacific territories. Upon delivery of Matsonia, the company will have finished a multiyear, $900 million fleet renewal. The build program consists of both Kanaloaclass con-ros, as well as two Aloha-class containerships and shoreside upgrades at several ports. Daniel K. Inouye and Kaimana Hila, the Aloha-class vessels, were built at Philly Shipyard. The 854foot ships sail at 23.5 knots fully loaded and have space for 3,220 TEU.

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