Matson, Inc.

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Matson, Inc.
DJTA component
S&P 600 component
IndustryShipping, navigation
FoundedApril 10, 1882 (1882-04-10)
HeadquartersHonolulu, Hawaii, United States
Area served
United States
Key people
  • Matthew J. Cox (CEO)[1]
  • Vincent Gordon A. Sander (COO)
  • Richard Miles G. Blake, CPA (CFO)
Revenue$2.38 billion[2]
Number of employees
4,149 (2020)[2]

Matson, Inc. is an American shipping and navigation services company headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii. Founded in 1882,[3] Matson, Inc.'s subsidiary Matson Navigation Company provides ocean shipping services across the Pacific to Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Micronesia, the South Pacific, China, and Japan.

Matson acquired the historic Moana Hotel (now part of the Moana Surfrider Hotel complex) and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki on the island of Oahu in 1932.


William Matson (1849–1917) founded Matson Navigation Company. He was born in Lysekil in Västra Götaland County, Sweden, and orphaned during childhood. He arrived in San Francisco after a trip around Cape Horn in 1867. Working aboard the Dickel family yacht, he struck up a friendship with tycoon Claus Spreckels, who financed many of Matson's new ships. In 1882, the three-masted schooner Emma Claudina ran to the Hawaiian Islands.

The enterprise began in the carrying of merchandise, especially of plantation stores, to the islands and returning with cargoes of sugar. This led to gradually expanding interests at both ends of the line.

In 1924, Matson completed the Matson Building at 215 Market Street in San Francisco. It featured an observation tower and cupola at the northern corner of the building that enabled company executives to see its ships coming through the Golden Gate. The company later sold the building to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, whose general office was next door at 245 Market. PG&E has incorporated the former Matson building into its general office complex, keeping Matson-specific details such as elevator doors with detailed maps of Hawaii on them.

For a brief period after World War II, Matson operated an airline using Douglas DC-4 aircraft between the Pacific Coast and Hawaii. The airline ultimately ceased operations because of political pressure from Pan American World Airways, which resulted in inability to obtain federal government scheduled operating authority.

On December 1, 2011, Matson's then-parent company Alexander & Baldwin announced that its board of directors approved a plan to split A&B and Matson into two separate companies. As part of the plan, Matson would leave Oakland, California, to become a Honolulu-based company. The two companies are now traded separately.[4]

In 2015, Matson, Inc. acquired Horizon Lines, formerly its main competitor in the United States domestic market, for $469 million.[5]

Historical image from Matson Lines promoting their Hawaiian hotels

Passenger ships[edit]

SS Lurline 1930s
The SS Monterey

Primarily a conveyor of freight, Matson also introduced into service a number of passenger liners to capitalize on the burgeoning tourist trade. In 1926, Matson took over the Oceanic Steamship Company, operating three trans-Pacific liners, including the SS Sonoma.

From the early 20th century through the 1970s, Matson liners sailed from the west coast ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles to Honolulu and points beyond, including a handful of South Pacific ports of call as well as Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. Two of their earlier cargo liners, Maui and Wilhelmina, were the first passenger ships to place their engines aft.

Among the "white ships of Matson" were Malolo (rechristened Matsonia), Lurline, Mariposa, and Monterey.[6] With the advent and expansion of routine air travel between the mainland and the islands, Matson's passenger service was greatly diminished, and the liners were eventually retired from trans-Pacific service and virtually gone by the end of the 1970s.[7]

Current fleet[edit]

Matson containers being loaded into a ship

Matson's current cargo fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels include:[8]

  • Anchorage / Kodiak / Tacoma (sister ships)
  • Daniel K. Inouye
  • Imua II / Liloa II (sister ships)
  • Kaimana Hila
  • Kamokuiki
  • Lihue
  • Lurline
  • Manoa / Mahimahi
  • Manulani / Maunawili / Manukai (sister ships)
  • Maunalei
  • Matsonia
  • Mokihana
  • Papa Mau
  • R.J. Pfeiffer
  • Haleakala
  • Mauna Loa
  • Waialeale
Shipping dock in Hilo Bay with Matson containers


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matson executive management
  2. ^ a b Retrieved April 3, 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Company profile Matson, Inc". Businessweek. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  4. ^ Alexander & Baldwin to split into 2 publicly traded companies Honolulu Star-Advertiser
  5. ^ Schwing, Emily (5 June 2015). "With Matson acquisition final, Horizon Lines no longer exists". KTOO. Juneau, United States. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Duncan, 1967- (October 2014). The grand manner of Matson. Victoria, B.C., Canada. ISBN 978-0-9686734-3-0. OCLC 881138788.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "History of the Matson Fleet". Matson Navigation Company.
  8. ^ "Matson's Fleet". MATSON. Retrieved 2021-01-23.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cushing, John E (1951). Captain William Matson (1849–1917): From Handy Boy to Shipowner. New York: Newcomen Society in North America. OCLC 654333478.
  • O'Brien, Duncan (2008). The White Ships: Matson Line to Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia Via Samoa, Fiji, 1927–1978. Pier 19 Media. ISBN 978-0-968-67341-6.

External links[edit]