By Léo Azambuja


Matson Senior Vice President (Pacific region) Vic Angoco Jr. speaks to about 150 members of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce during the chamber’s 1st Quarter Membership Meeting March 13.

The keynote speaker at the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce’s 1st Quarter Membership Meeting shed some light on how most of the produce and pretty much anything else arrives in Hawai‘i, one of the most isolated archipelagos in the world.

One of the key points for Matson Navigation Company is that they must provide “fixed, weekly, scheduled service” to the islands, Matson Senior Vice President (Pacific region) Vic Angoco Jr. told about 150 members of the chamber attending the dinner at the Kaua‘i Beach Resort’s Jasmine Ballroom March 13.

The sea carrier has been servicing Hawaii since 1882, according to Angoco.

The company was originally founded by Capt. William Matson, who sailed the three-masted schooner Emma Claudina from San Francisco, Calif. to Hilo, carrying 300 pounds of produce and other goods, according to the company’s website. From then on, Matson expanded to become one of the main container-shipping companies sailing in the Pacific Ocean and the largest to service Hawai‘i.


Matson used to be in the passenger-liner business, but became solely shipping carriers a few years after World War II.

Angoco said that up until World War II, Matson was also a passenger company, with four passenger liners. But during wartime, the United States military acquired some of the company’s ships. After the war, Matson slowly phased out its passenger liners and moved toward being solely a cargo carrier company, according to Angoco.

In the 1950s, Matson built two hotels in Waikiki to house its passengers, the Moana Hotel and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which were later sold to Sheraton Corporation.

Today, Matson services the islands three times a week, from the Mainland’s Westcoast. Two ships travel back and forth the Mainland, and a third ship continues to Guam, then to China, and then straight back to the Mainland, Angoco said.

The sea-carrier also services New Zealand and other South Pacific islands.

Up until 2012, Matson’s parent company was Alexander & Baldwin, which had minority interests in the shipping company since 1908 and had become the owner in 1969. Matson is now owned by Matson, Inc, and has moved its headquarters from Oakland, Calif. to Honolulu since 2012.

Matson container

One of Matson’s ships is seen here near Diamond Head on O‘ahu.

In 2018, Matson will launch two new container ships, capable of carrying 3,600 20-foot containers each, Angoco said. They will be the largest ships operated by Matson, and will be equipped to accept Liquefied Natural Gas, in anticipation of new facilities planned to support the shipping industry.

One of those ships will be name in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Angoco said.

Angoco also talked about the company’s policy of not throwing anything that can be recyclable overboard, even though international law may allow some of the trash to be thrown overboard. Instead, Matson has a green-painted container that packs all recyclable material discarded during high-seas trips.

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