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

General Dynamics NASSCO Wednesday began construction on the first of two container ships for Honolulu-based Matson Navigation Co. Inc. that will increase employment at its San Diego shipyard.

The 870-foot-long Lurline will provide the capability to transport containers, automobiles and rolling stock, including trailers, and will use an advanced propulsion system that could be converted to liquefied natural gas in the future.

“We’re honored to advance the Matson fleet with two large, modern vessels reflecting the highest standards of design and energy efficiency,” said Kevin Graney, president of General Dynamics NASSCO.

“The construction we began today, and the contracted work for several additional U.S. Navy ships, require additional manpower at our San Diego shipyard,” Graney said. “NASSCO will soon begin hiring to continue our reputation of delivering high quality ships on schedule.”

Representatives of NASSCO and Matson held a brief ceremony to cut the first pieces of steel, signifying the start of construction, which is scheduled to be complete in 2019.

“Construction of these new ships underscores Matson’s commitment to serve Hawaii with the largest, most reliable and environmentally friendly vessels for the long-term,” said Ron Forest, Matson president. “The Kanaloa Class is designed specifically to meet Hawaii’s freight demands while reducing our environmental impact and improving our efficiency for decades to come.”

Matson is calling the ships the “Kanaloa Class” in honor of an ocean deity revered in the native Hawaiian culture and will name each of the new vessels after predecessor ships from its 135-year history. Work on the second container ship, the Matsonia, will begin next year, with delivery scheduled in 2020, according to NASSCO.

Matson owns 22 ships that ply to seas between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland, Alaska, Asia and Pacific island nations.

— City News Service

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