Matson’s bigger cranes for bigger cargo ships arrive in Honolulu
Higher, farther and heavier.
That’s what Matson Inc. is preparing to soon gain in heft for unloading cargo containers from its ships at Honolulu Harbor.
Hawaii’s dominant ocean cargo transportation firm Tuesday began what is expected to be a more than two-month process of installing three bigger and more powerful gantry cranes at its container handling facility at the state’s busiest harbor.
The new cranes arrived in Honolulu on Friday night on a ship from Japan where they were built by Tokyo-based Mitsui Engineering &Shipbuilding.
The first crane was ushered ashore Tuesday on rails perched between the delivery vessel and pier. The other two cranes are expected to be offloaded today and Thursday, but it will be until at least July before the new cranes begin operating because they need to be tested and certified after structural bracing for the ocean voyage is removed.
Matson ordered the new cranes so that it can service four bigger new ships, the first of which, the Daniel K. Inouye, went into service in November.
The three other new ships are slated for delivery by the end of next year, and they are considerably bigger than anything Matson had in its fleet before spending $929 million on the four additions.
The 850-foot-long Inouye became the largest containership ever built in the United States, according to Matson. Like its coming sister ship, the Inouye can carry the equivalent of 3,600 20-foot containers, or TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). The capacity of Matson’s next-biggest ship is about 2,800 TEUs.
Matson’s two other new ships are designed to carry containers along with up to 800 vehicles in a covered garage. If these 870-foot ships were solely for containers, their capacity would be 3,500 TEUs.
The new cranes will replace three of six cranes Matson operates on dockside rails at the harbor.
Each new crane is 16 feet taller, can extend 5 feet farther out over ships and can lift 56,000 more pounds than the machines they are replacing that date to 1975-76.
The extra height and reach are necessary to remove containers on the bigger ships when they are loaded to maximum capacity, because the new ships can fit one more row of containers within the width of the ship as well as one higher layer of containers compared with Matson’s biggest older ship.
Matson spokesman Keoni Wagner said the need to stack containers on the Inouye beyond the reach of existing cranes isn’t immediate, but that the extra capacity on the Inouye and other three new ships is expected to be used in the coming years as Hawaii’s economy grows. Matson also plans to reduce the number of ships to nine from 10 later this year.
Matson did not disclose the cost of the new cranes, but said they are part of a $60 million modernization and expansion of its Honolulu container terminal. As part of this work, Mitsui is upgrading the three older cranes being retained with work that includes electrical system changes and adding fiber-optic cables to improve crane cameras that read container numbers.