Matson starts U.S.-flag service to Marshall Islands

   Matson Inc. said it has launched a direct U.S.-flag service between Honolulu and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
   The new service will call three ports in the Marshall Islands — Kwajalein, Ebeye and Majuro — every 17 days. Matson said by transshipping cargo from the U.S. mainland via Honolulu, the transit time will be about two weeks, compared to three weeks or more with its the current service that transships through Guam.
   Matson has served the Marshall Islands since 1972. It has been serving the three ports from the U.S. West Coast via Guam, where westbound containerized and bulk cargo is transshipped to Matsons Micronesia service.
   Matson purchased a 700-TEU, U.S.-flagged containership Marstan from Sealift for the new service. It was renamed Kamokuiki, meaning small island or vessel in the Hawaiian language.
   Matson said it is well suited to serving island communities with two 45-ton cranes on board, hydraulic folding hatch covers and high maneuverability that allows docking without tugs.
   Matson said the ships first voyage in the new service departed Honolulu last Saturday and will arrive at Kwajalein this Saturday.