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HONOLULU: AUGUST 07, 2017. Matson is adding to its Marshall Islands (RMI) service in the first quarter of 2018 with a new biweekly sailing from Honolulu.

The service will be operated by a 707 TEU feeder vessel calling at the ports of Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro and shorten overall transit times between the U.S. mainland and RMI from three to two weeks.

The ship (right), built in Germany in 2000 and purchased by Matson from Sealift, will be fitted with two 45-ton cranes that can be joined to handle heavy lift cargoes before it is delivery later this year.

MV MarstanThe company said the vessel will be ideal for the island trade with its small stature, two cranes, hydraulic folding hatch covers, and extreme maneuverability produced by a bow thruster and flap rudder, which allows docking without tugs.

Matson has served the Marshall Islands since 1972 and currently calls at the three ports from the U.S. West Coast via Guam, where westbound containerized and bulk cargo is transshipped to Matson's Micronesia service.

"Matson has been rated the No.1 ocean carrier in the world for three years running because of its commitment to operating the fastest and most reliable service in the markets we serve," said COO John Lauer. "We will soon be offering U.S. flag service all the way to Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro, providing the fastest service in the market to an important locale for the U.S. government."

For the first six months of 2017 Matson has reported revenue of US$986.9 million and net income of US$31 million, compared to US$921.9 million and US$36.1 million respectively for the previous period.

Matt Cox, Matson's chairman and CEO commented: "Matson achieved better than expected second quarter results, buoyed by stronger demand for our expedited China service, the timing of fuel surcharge collections, higher lift volumes at our SSAT terminal joint venture, and improved performance in Logistics. However, these gains were moderated by lower construction related cargo to Hawaii as the boom of high-rise condominium developments in Honolulu has begun to ebb and other real estate construction activity has yet to offset that decline."

"For the balance of 2017 we continue to expect modest improvement in each of our core tradelanes with the exception of Guam where we expect further competitive losses," he added.

Matson's container volume in Guam has declined in the first half of 2017 due to the launch by APL last December of a weekly service linking the U.S. West Coast with Guam and Saipan.

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