More on Philly Shipyard’s four Hawaii containership order
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, June 20, 2017
Tradewinds Magazine published on June 16, 2017, the news article, “Philly Shipyard leaves buyer a mystery in boxship order,” reports on Philly Shipyard Inc.’s announcement on Thursday, June 9, 2017, that they would construct four newbuild Jones Act containerships for the U.S. West Coast-Hawaii trade lane.
The TradeWinds article focuses on the fact that Philly Shipyard’s announcement did not reveal the identity of a the buyer and the real intention of the yard is to place the ships with one of the incumbent carriers – i.e., Matson Navigation Company Inc. or Pasha Hawaii Transport line LLC.
In addition, TradeWinds published on June 19, 2017, ‘Hawaii trade in sights as American Shipping looks to branch out,” reporting on remarks of Pat Lothe Magnussen, CEO, American Shipping Company ASA (AMSC), at the Marine Money Week conference at the Pierre Hotel, New York City. AMSC is a Norwegian ship owning company that invests in Jones Act shipping, is a related company to Philly Shipyard, and has purchased 10 Jones Act tankers constructed at Philly for lease under bare boat charter to the Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. (OSG).
“Magnussen told TradeWinds that containerships for the Hawaii trade are among the current opportunities, though he declined to comment on a connection with the Philly Shipyard announcement. ‘I don't think we have the pressure to diversify, but I do think we would benefit from growing the business,’ he said. “
This strongly indicates that Philly shipyard and American shipping are working together on the containership project, which would involve a bare boat lease to one of the incumbent carriers in the Hawaii trade, in all likelihood, Pasha Hawaii.
There should be the opportunity to shortly learn more about American Shipping plans as Magnussen is scheduled to present at the Maritime Investment Forum on Seeking Alpha on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Amid a thinning order book for Jones Act vessels, the Aker-backed Philly Shipyard said it is in “advanced talks” to build four new containerships for the cabotage trade between the US mainland and Hawaii.
Left out of the announcement, however, was who is buying the ships.
Philly Shipyard says the order is for a new entrant in the US-Hawaii trade, which is currently controlled by Matson and Pasha Group. The ships would be financed by a leasing company, which would then bareboat charter them to the new company.
While Philly remains coy on the potential buyer, market watchers say it is more likely than not the orders will go to one of the incumbent players in the market.
But Michael Hansen, president of the Hawaii Shippers Council, says Pasha faces the more immediate need to renew its fleet, which still has four steamships over 30 years old.
“The target is not Matson, the target is Pasha,” Hansen said.
Pasha is facing a regulatory deadline of 2020 when the steamships that came from Horizon Lines will no longer be compliant with the International Maritime Organization’s Marpol VI rules limiting sulphur and nitrous emissions.
Pasha may also be looking into a retrofit for the older ships to comply with the Marpol rules, Hansen says. He adds that one of the Pasha steamships, the 2,300-teu Horizon Pacific (built 1979), is currently in Ningbo, China, where Keppel has a yard.
Hansen says Philly Shipyard made a similar speculative play in 2004. It was building two containerships for Matson. Another two containerships were being built for a company that Philly itself set up called Ocean Blue Express, which was headed by a former Matson executive.
“This is a way for (Philly Shipyard) to grab the business,” Hansen said. “They don’t need more competition.”