Matson to cut shipping time to Pacific nation with new service via Honolulu

Hawaii-based shipping company Matson Inc. is launching direct service between Honolulu and the Republic of the Marshall Islands next year that will shorten cargo service to the island nation from the Mainland by as many as eight days.

The new route will be operated twice a week and serve the ports of Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro, using a smaller, U.S.-flagged 707-TEU containership for the new service, starting in the first quarter of 2018. Matson has served the Marshall Islands for 45 years from ports on the West Coast via Guam, with cargo transshipped to Matson’s Micronesia service.

The new route will transport cargo to the Marshall Islands from the West Coast via Honolulu in about two weeks, versus three weeks or more under the current service.

Matson (NYSE” MATX) is purchasing the ship, which will be renamed Kamokuiki, which is Hawaiian for “small island or vessel,” from Sealift Inc. of Oyster Bay, New York.

The ship, which was built in Germany in 2000 and brought under the U.S. flag in 2013, will be fitted with two 45-ton cranes before it’s delivered to Matson later this year.

"Matson always looks for ways to leverage its superior Pacific network to enhance service to our customers,” John Lauer, Matson’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “We will soon be offering U.S. flag service all the way to Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro, and at the same time we will improve transit times, providing the fastest service in the market to an important locale for the U.S. government."

Matson last month also said it would increase the frequency of its South Pacific Express service to Samoa and American Samoa.

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