New steward-department jobs for SIU members are on the horizon following the recent christening of an historic vessel.
SIU-contracted Matson, Inc., christened the second of two Kanaloa Class vessels, the Matsonia, in a ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO – a union shipyard – in San Diego on July 2.
The Jones Act vessel, the largest combination container/roll-on, roll-off (Con-Ro) ship ever built in the United States along with its sister ship the Lurline, is the second of two new builds for Matson by NASSCO.
“The SIU looks forward to providing our typically outstanding steward department personnel when the ship is delivered later this year,” stated SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker. “We applaud the company for its commitment to American-flag shipping and U.S. crews, and we appreciate the terrific work by union shipyard workers who handled the construction.”
The Matsonia is slated for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2020.
“Matson is already benefiting from the speed, capacity and improved environmental profile of the three new ships we’ve put into service since 2018,” said Matt Cox, Matson’s chairman and chief executive officer, after the shipyard ceremony. “Matsonia will be our fourth new ship, completing a three-year fleet renewal program that positions us well to serve the needs of our communities in Hawaii for many years to come.”
During the ceremony, Peggy Forest, wife of Matson President Ron Forest, officially christened the vessel by breaking a ceremonial bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull.
“As a proud U.S. company and Jones Act carrier, our investment in this new ship is about much more than maintaining a high level of service to Hawaii. It also helps drive substantial economic benefits and opportunities in communities around the Pacific, where this vessel will operate,” Cox added. “The construction of Matsonia represents over a year’s work for about 2,000 professionals here at NASSCO: engineers, tradesmen and lots of support people and countless others who produced the materials used to build this ship that are sourced here in the U.S. Over its expected lifespan, this ship will generate approximately 4.5 million man-hours of work opportunity for the U.S. mariners who will operate it and decades of steady work for all of the dockworkers and terminal personnel that move the cargo on and off our ships.”
He concluded, “These are all living-wage jobs, supporting the families of these American workers and the taxes they pay. Multiply that by all the ships NASSCO and other U.S. shipyards are building, and you get a sense of the value of the maritime industry to our country and its economy. In California alone, there are more than 51,000 jobs tied to the American maritime industry, providing over 3.6 billion dollars in labor income with a total economic impact in the state of more than twelve billion dollars.”
Dave Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO, said, “The Matsonia is a reflection of the highest standards of shipbuilding and we are proud to celebrate her launching. This extraordinary vessel is a testament to the hard work, unity and strength of our thousands of dedicated shipbuilders who made this possible.”
Matsonia is an iconic name in Matson’s long history, dating to the construction of Matson’s first ship of that name in 1912. Three more ships were given the name in subsequent years; this vessel will be the fifth.
Named in honor of the ocean deity revered in native Hawaiian culture, Matson’s two Kanaloa Class vessels constructed at NASSCO are built on a 3,500 TEU vessel platform. At 870 feet long, 114 feet wide (beam), with a deep draft of 38 feet and weighing in at over 50,000 metric tons, the Matsonia will join the Seafarers-crewed Lurline (delivered in late 2019) as Matson’s largest ships.
They are among Matson’s fastest vessels, with a top speed of 23 knots. Both new Kanaloa Class vessels have an enclosed garage with room for approximately 500 vehicles, plus ample space for rolling stock and breakbulk cargo. They also feature state-of-the-art green technology, including 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 containerships regularly serving West Coast ports, according to Matson.
The Jones Act, America’s freight cabotage law, supports the domestic maritime industry that employs approximately 650,0000 Americans across all 50 states, creates $41 billion in labor income for American workers and adds more than $154.8 billion in annual economic output each year. Nationally, there are more than 40,000 American vessels – built in American shipyards, crewed by American mariners, and owned by American companies – that operate in U.S. waters daily.