Artist rendering of Matson Kanaloa Class vessel. Image via General Dynamics NASSCO

San Diego shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO announced Thursday a deal with Matson Navigation Company Inc. to design and build a pair of 870-foot-long container ships.

Construction is set to begin in two years, with deliveries to Matson, of Long Beach, scheduled for 2019 and 2020, according to NASSCO. The vessels will transport containers, automobiles and trucks between the West Coast and Hawaii.

According to Matson, the contract price is $511 million, which pays for both vessels.

“We are very pleased to partner with Matson to build their next generation of shipping vessels,” said Fred Harris, NASSCO president.

“NASSCO has long played a leading role in revolutionizing the future of the American shipping industry,” Harris said. “Our partnership with Matson builds upon NASSCO’s successful track record of constructing high-quality, highly-efficient and on-time delivery for the Jones Act trade.”

The Jones Act regulates interstate trade within the U.S.

The ships will have roll-on, roll-off capability and will have engines capable of running on liquefied natural gas, according to NASSCO.

“Matson is calling these vessels the Kanaloa Class in honor of the ocean deity revered in the native Hawaiian culture and will name each of the new vessels after predecessor ships from its 134-year history,” said a Matson company statement. “The first vessel will be named Lurline, the sixth Matson vessel to carry that name, while the second vessel will be its fifth named Matsonia.”

The ships are big, but fall well short of the longest. A Wikipedia list of the biggest containers ships shows many over 1,300 feet.

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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