MATSON TO BUY BARGE FOR USE IN HAWAII VESSEL TARGETED FOR CAR TRADE

MATSON TO BUY BARGE FOR USE IN HAWAII VESSEL TARGETED FOR CAR TRADE

Continuing its expansion program seen over the past several months, Matson Navigation Co. announced it plans to purchase a special $10 million barge for use within the Hawaiian Islands chain.

The San Francisco-based company said it would acquire a 340-foot barge that it will convert to a roll-on roll-off cargo barge. The barge will carry containers, trailers, automobiles and heavy equipment between Honolulu and ports on Maui, Hawaii and Kauai.The company has not yet decided which barge it will acquire but is looking at several that are available. The new barge will be added to the company's two existing inter-island barges, the Haleakala and the Mauna Loa.

It will be geared in particular to the growing automobile trade, said C.B. Mulholland, Matson's president and chief executive, in a prepared statement.

Matson expects to place the barge in service by November. It will be able to carry 188 autos and 45 40-foot containers. It also will carry its own loading ramps.

This added capacity will give Matson three calls a week at the islands of Maui and Hawaii and twice-weekly service at Kauai.

In the past several months, Matson has announced the purchase of two used vessels, a new containership and new cranes worth well over $200 million. The company has been arguing publicly that the Hawaiian trade needs no additional capacity or competition.

American President Lines has been asking the U.S. Maritime Administration for permission to enter the Hawaii market since 1987.