debuts the newest of
its Hawaii cargo ships
The vessel will serve its new
China-West Coast trade route
Matson Navigation Co. is nearly ready to stake its claim for a piece of the growing Chinese export market.
The company's ships, even at full capacity, would control less than 1 percent of China's export market on Matson's new China-West Coast trade route, James Andrasick, president and chief executive of the ocean transportation company, said yesterday. But Andrasick said Matson hopes to improve the quality of its cargo when it begins servicing the Chinese ports of Ningbo and Shanghai in February.
"If you want to take low-revenue cargo, you could probably fill a ship up fairly easily," he said. "Higher-revenue cargo takes more timing, more planning, more intense marketing and more customer solutions. That may take longer, but in the long term it will be more rewarding."
Andrasick said Matson ultimately will move approximately 50,000 containers annually from China that will generate revenue of about $100 million. However, it could take up to three years to reach full capacity.
Andrasick introduced the company's newest vessel, the MV Manulani, during a press conference yesterday that marked the third consecutive year the company has unveiled a U.S.-built ship from Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard. A fourth new ship scheduled for delivery next year will join the company's MV R.J. Pfeiffer in forming a five-ship rotation that will begin in Long Beach, Calif., and stop in Hawaii, Guam and two China ports before completing the 35-day, round-trip voyage in Long Beach. The return leg from Shanghai to Long Beach will take 11 days.
"Eleven days is as good as it gets in our industry serving China," Andrasick said. "We have a significant advantage in the Port of Long Beach where this marine terminal handles only Matson ships, and the compact size of our vessels compared to these new giant ships that are starting to enter this particular trade lane are also significant when it comes to service time."
Matson's new ships have roughly a third of the capacity of some larger competing vessels, which can take three to four days to offload. Matson's ships take only a day and a half to unload.
"Together with our truck turn times going into the dedicated user facility in Long Beach, we think we'll have a significant competitive advantage," Andrasick said.
Matson, a subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin Inc., also plans to convert two of the vessels deployed in its Guam service to combination roll-on, roll-off/containerships. Andrasick said, though, that the specific timing of the conversion was uncertain and that it would take place before 2008. Once completed, Matson would have four combination ro-ro/containerships in addition to a chartered vessel it uses for vehicle transportation.