CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Horizon Lines welcomed the 715-foot Horizon Tiger, above, to its fleet yesterday. The vessel rounds out a five-ship fleet expansion that began in May intended to increase isle capacity. Horizon said the expansion helps it meet demand from a growing economy. CLICK FOR LARGE
'Tiger' joins Horizon's fleet
The shipper adds the last of five container ships intended to boost isle capacity
Horizon Lines Inc. welcomed its newest vessel to Hawaii yesterday amid bullish forecasts by company officials for the state's economy.
The 715-foot Horizon Tiger, which can hold 2,824 20-foot containers, is the last of five container ships that the state's second-largest ocean shipper is chartering from Bermuda-based Ship Finance International Ltd. The new vessel joins eight other Horizon ships servicing Hawaii, including the four other newly built vessels chartered from Ship Finance that started arriving in May.
"It was very essential to acquire these ships," said Brian Taylor, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the company's headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., who was in town for yesterday's christening at Pier 32 in Honolulu Harbor.
"We have continued to grow our business in Hawaii and Guam," added Taylor, who until last year was based in Hawaii and oversaw the operations here. "We see continued growth in this economy, continued expansion with the military, and we felt that having these ships was critical to us in order to provide the capacity that is needed for us to be a vital link in the ocean transportation lifeline in Hawaii."
Horizon's 12-year lease is extendable, and also includes an option to buy the vessels.
Horizon accounts for about 36 percent of U.S. marine container shipments from the continental United States to Hawaii, Guam, Alaska and Puerto Rico, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The five new ships, which cost Ship Finance about $280 million, are U.S.-flagged and were built by the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co. in South Korea. They can cruise at 23 knots.
Mar Labrador, who replaced Taylor last year as Horizon's vice president for Hawaii, Guam and Micronesia, said the Horizon Tiger actually began its voyage in Hong Kong and carried eastbound cargo to Tacoma, Wash. It then went to Oakland before arriving in Honolulu. It leaves today for Guam before heading to Asia.
Of the nine ships servicing Hawaii in Horizon's 21-vessel fleet, four have dedicated mainland routes. Two travel between Long Beach, Calif., and Hawaii and two others go from Tacoma to Oakland to Hawaii and back to Tacoma. The other five vessels servicing Hawaii stop here en route to Asia.
"With the addition of these five ships, what it allows us to do is reposition a number of ships in our fleet to increase the capacity, and increase the speed and reliability, of the service that we provide here in Hawaii and Guam," Taylor said.
Capt. Frederick Cook of Bar Harbor, Maine, who is overseeing the Tiger's voyages, said it takes four days to get from the mainland to Hawaii and 11 days to travel from the last Asian port in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to Tacoma.
"The ocean is the master," he said. "If it wants to beat you up, it beats you up. It doesn't matter how big you are. But most of the time it's pretty good."
Young Brothers Ltd. President Glenn Hong, whose company operates the state's largest interisland cargo service, attended the christening and said he was glad to see the additional capacity coming into the islands.
"It means that as the Hawaii economy grows, there will be growing demands and requirements for the neighbor islands," Hong said. "The neighbor island's economies have been growing fairly steadily, probably faster than the overall state's economy."