Matson Proceeding with Third LNG Conversion for its Containerships
Matson is proceeding with its plans to convert three of its containerships to dual-fuel LNG operations. China’s COSCO Shipping Shipyard (Nantong) reports it signed a contract with Matson for the third step in the conversion program, the retrofit of the 2019-built vessel Kaimana Hila.
The project was first announced in 2022 when Matson contracted with MAN PrimeServ for the conversion of the first ship of the Aloha Class, the Daniel K. Inouye, which had been built in 2018. The two sisterships are 50,000 dwt containerships measuring 841 feet in length and with a capacity for 3,800 TEU.
Matson noted that the sisterships along with the later sisterships Lurline and Matsonia were all outfitted with LNG-capable dual-fuel engines in anticipation of their eventual conversion. However, at the time the ships were introduced, they noted that commercial supplies of LNG were not yet available in its network.
Details on the project and its timing were not announced, but Matson previously said it would begin in the second quarter of 2024 and is scheduled to be back in service by year-end. It is being coordinated with the retrofit of a third Matson vessel, the Manukai (29,500 dwt and 2,370 TEU). Built in 2003, the vessel arrived last August in Nantong for a more extensive renovation project that involved replacing her main engine as well as the installation of LNG tanks and the systems. She is due to return to service this summer.
MAN PrimeServ reported in March 2023 that Matson had taken up the option for the conversion of the Kaimana Hila. MAN noted that the dual-fuel conversion provides fuel flexibility to take advantage of optimal fuel prices while the vessels can also comply with IMO emission targets and extend their operational lifetimes.
The conversion of the Kaimana Hila will be similar to the work carried out in the first half of 2023 on the Daniel K. Inouye, which involved the fitting of three LNG tanks, which was completed in March 2023, as well as the gas supply and control systems, associated piping and other conversion equipment, which was due to be completed by June 2023. Matson estimated that the conversion of each of the Aloha Class vessels was costing approximately $35 million.
After completing the conversion, the Daniel K. Inouye was initially fueled in Long Beach, California in a truck-to-ship operation. The first operational LNG bunkering took place on September 4 loading nearly 1,400 cubic meters of LNG.
Matson and CNOOC Zhejiang New Energy Co. in October 2023 entered into an LNG supply agreement. It was the first international ship LNG bunkering fixed-term contract of CNOOC and followed by the first LNG ship-to-ship bunkering of 759 tons of LNG performed at the Meishan in the Ningbo port complex for the Daniel K. Inouye. CNOOC will be supplying the LNG for the Matson ships operating between the United States and China.
Matson has also ordered the construction of three new 3,600 TEU Aloha Class containerships which will be delivered LNG-ready. They are to be built at Philly Shipyard for delivery in 2026 and 2027. The company at last report was also considering LNG retrofitting projects for the Kanaloa Class vessels, Lurline and Matsonia. Matson is investing nearly $1 billion for the three conversions and another $1 billion to build the three new vessels.