CalChamber Members Work Together to Build Next Generation Container Ships


General Dynamics NASSCO and Matson Navigation Company, Inc., both members of the California Chamber of Commerce, announced in late August they had signed a contract to build two new state-of-the-art container ships.

General Dynamics NASSCO will be building the ships at the NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. Construction will begin in early 2018, according to General Dynamics NASSCO, with delivery set for 2019 and the middle of 2020.

Matson reports a contract price of $511 million for both vessels, which will have roll-on, roll-off capability and can operate at speeds up to 23 knots. Among the green technology features are dual-fuel engines that can use either conventional fuel oils or be adapted to use liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The design will reduce fuel consumption and will result in significant emissions reductions over time, according to Matson.

The 870-foot-long ships will be able to carry up to 3,500 twenty-foot-equivalent units of containers and rolling stock, including trailers, and provide enclosed garage space for up to 800 vehicles.

Matson is calling the ships the Kanaloa Class, named after the Hawaiian ocean deity. Upon delivery the vessels will serve a trade route between the continental West Coast and Hawaii.

The two Kanaloa Class ships will replace three diesel-powered vessels in active service, which will be removed to reserve status, according to Matson.

An artist’s rendering of the Kanaloa class ship to be built by General Dynamics NASSCO on a contract with Matson Navigation Company, Inc. Photo courtesy General Dynamics NASSCO/Matson
An artist’s rendering of the Kanaloa class ship to be built by General Dynamics NASSCO on a contract with Matson Navigation Company, Inc. Photo courtesy General Dynamics NASSCO/Matson

General Dynamics NASSCO

General Dynamics NASSCO has been designing, building, and repairing ships in San Diego’s industrial corridor since 1960. Its San Diego facility is the largest full-service shipyard on the West Coast of the United States.

Today, the company has locations on both the West and East coasts. General Dynamics NASSCO specializes in designing and building auxiliary and support ships for the U.S. Navy, and oil tankers and dry cargo carriers for commercial markets.

Since 1960, NASSCO has designed and constructed 53 commercial ships that have included a variety of propulsion plants—steam turbine, gas turbine, geared diesel, diesel-electric, and slow-speed diesel.

To complement its government new construction and repair business, NASSCO provides extensive experience in commercial shipbuilding. In the last 10 years, NASSCO has delivered 28 ocean-going ships to government and commercial customers, including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships.

General Dynamics NASSCO is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, which has headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia and employs about 90,000 people worldwide.

The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies.

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Matson Navigation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Matson, Inc. The company was founded in 1882, the year Captain William Matson sailed his three-masted schooner Emma Claudina from San Francisco to Hilo, Hawaii, carrying 300 tons of food, plantation supplies and general merchandise.

Matson is a leading U.S. carrier in the Pacific, serving the economies of Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Micronesia and select South Pacific Islands. It also operates a premium expedited service from China to Southern California.

The company’s fleet of 22 owned vessels includes containerships, combination container and roll-on/roll-off ships and custom-designed barges.

Matson Logistics, established in 1987, extends the geographic reach of Matson’s transportation network throughout the continental United States. The company’s integrated, asset-light logistics services include rail intermodal, highway brokerage, warehousing, and less-than-container load freight consolidation and forwarding to Alaska.

More information is available at

Staff Contact: Susanne T. Stirling

“Profiles in Trade” is a regular feature highlighting the international activities of CalChamber member companies.

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Susanne T. Stirling, senior vice president, international affairs, has headed CalChamber international activities for more than four decades. She is an appointee of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to the National Export Council, and serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce International Policy Committee, the California International Relations Foundation, and the Chile-California Council. Originally from Denmark, she studied at the University of Copenhagen and holds a B.A. in international relations from the University of the Pacific, where she served as a regent from 2012 to 2021. She earned an M.A. from the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California.