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U.S. shipping company Matson has returned to Philly Shipyard with an order for three Jones Act containerships to join the two Aloha class sisterships already in operation.
The company on Wednesday announced it has signed contracts with the Jones Act shipbuilder for the construction of three additional 3,600 TEU Aloha ships for an aggregate price of $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 Matson’s two Aloha class ships previously delivered by Philly Shipyard in 2018 and 2019. The 854-foot vessels are the largest containerships ever built in the U.S. and were ordered in 2013 at a cost of $418 million for the pair. The vessels are the fastest in Matson’s fleet, designed to operate at speeds in excess of 23 knots.
Similar to those sisterships, 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, 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. Matson announced the first conversion in June.
Matson says the three new ships will replace three vessels currently deployed in Matson’s China-Long Beach Express (CLX) service, which calls in Honolulu and Guam on the westbound leg necessitating Jones Act compliance. The vessels being replaced will in turn replace three older vessels currently deployed on Matson’s Alaska service.
“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 service, and like their sisterships, 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.”
For Philly Shipyard the order marks the first commercial shipbuilding work since delivering the two Aloha class ships. Prior to those, Philly Shipyard delivered four newbuild Jones Act containerships to 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.
Matson said it expects to finance the new vessels with cash currently in the Capital Construction Fund and through cash flows from operations, borrowings available under its unsecured revolving credit facility and additional debt financings.
Matson has set corporate goals to achieve a 40 percent reduction in Scope 1 GHG fleet emissions by 2030 and net-zero Scope 1 GHG emissions by 2050.
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