Philly Shipyard Delivers First New Jones Act Boxship for Matson

The Daniel K. Inouye at her christening ceremony, June 30, 2018 (Matson)

Published Oct 31, 2018 5:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Philly Shipyard has formally delivered the boxship Daniel K. Inouye, the first of two Panamax container ships for Matson's Hawaii trade. 

The Inouye, named after the late senator from Hawaii, is Philly Shipyard's 29th hull in 20 years of operation. She is the largest container ship ever built in the United States, with 3,600 TEU of capacity. The Inouye has dual fuel engines, which can be adapted in the future to use liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“It is an honor to deliver this vessel today to our returning customer Matson, and leave our mark on the industry with the largest containership built in the U.S.,” said Steinar Nerbovik, Philly Shipyard’s president and CEO, in a statement Wednesday. 

Next week, the Inouye will set sail on a 5,000-mile, 13-day voyage to Oakland via the Panama Canal. After a port call at Long Beach on November 22, the new vessel will make her first call at Honolulu on the morning of November 28.

The second vessel in the series, the future Kaimana Hila, is now the sole order in Philly's backlog, and she is due for delivery early next year. Philly had hoped to secure an order from TOTE for additional container ships similar to the Inouye, but TOTE ultimately decided not to enter the West Coast-Hawaii trade lane. 

To fill the gap, Philly is collaborating with Fincantieri to pursue the contract for the U.S. Coast Guard's next heavy icebreaker (recently rebranded as the Polar Security Cutter). Philly's potential competitors include Bollinger, General Dynamics NASSCO, Huntington Ingalls and VT Halter, all of which participated in an initial study round for the icebreaker's design. 

The Polar Security Cutter's near-term funding is uncertain: the House removed $750 million for the icebreaker from its version of the FY2019 Homeland Security appropriations bill, then added $5 billion for 200 miles of wall along the border with Mexico. The Senate version of the bill still contains funds for the icebreaker. Political analysts note that the 115th Congress has a considerable volume of work slated before its adjournment in mid-December, and some items - potentially including the Homeland Security bill - will likely be left to the next legislative session.