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Regional Shipping Operations Expand Services In Micronesia
U.S. shippers team up with Asian freightliners

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGTA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Dec. 17, 2012) – Shipping operations in the North Pacific have expanded with two U.S.-flag carriers’ respective chartering agreements with regional freightliners.

Horizon Lines and Singapore’s Mariana Express Lines Limited (MELL) on Saturday launched the new Micronesia Express service via a partnership that will pump up cargo shipment from the U.S. West Coast to select destinations in Micronesia.

Matson Navigation Company Inc. and Kyowa Shipping Co. Ltd. on Friday announced their space chartering and connecting carrier agreement for service between Asia and Guam/Micronesia.

"There is ongoing demand from U.S. shippers for service to these Pacific islands and by partnering with Horizon Lines we can fill the niche to meet this demand with reliable deliveries and a regular schedule," MELL President Tong Hui Aw said.

According to MELL’s press release, the new Micronesia Express service will deliver weekly shipments from Los Angeles, Oakland and Tacoma to the Pacific islands of Majuro, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, Palau and Saipan.

"Horizon Lines will serve as a dedicated shipping agent for the container service, providing U.S. sales, vessel connections and logistics support," the press release said.

MELL containers will be ferried by Horizon liners between U.S. West Coast ports and Honolulu. Upon reaching Honolulu, the cargo containers will be transferred onto MELL vessels for Pacific island connections.

"We are excited to help MELL enhance their Micronesia service capabilities for U.S. shippers," said Ali Nikkhoo, vice president and general manager for Horizon Lines.

According to the press release, the new Micronesia Express represents "a first ever direct Hawaii port call for MELL ships."

‘Perfect fit’

Gordon Forsyth, spokesman for Horizon Lines, said the partnership seeks to meet the growing demand for service in the U.S. and Pacific markets.

Aw and Forsyth said the two companies’ service cultures and philosophies are a "perfect fit" for each other.

Both companies, they added, have established their presence in the region and they both have familiarity with the U.S. and Pacific markets.

The partnership, Forsyth said, will maintain "scheduling integrity, speed and reliability."

"MELL’s Micronesia Express service will offer Los Angeles to Majuro transit times of 14 days, as an example," the press release said.

Horizon Lines, which shuttled between the U.S. West Coast and Guam and Micronesia for two decades, discontinued its Five Star Express trans-Pacific container shipping service in November last year, saying its growing capacity continued "to outpace demand."

Horizon’s pullout left Matson as the only U.S. carrier currently delivering cargo shipment from continental U.S. to Guam and Micronesia.

Forsyth said having another service available for shippers from the mainland "means better service and more efficiency."

MELL, however, will not be able to deliver cargo to Guam because the island is a U.S.-flag restricted jurisdiction, Forsyth said.

Matson, Kyowa team up

Meanwhile, Matson and Kyowa have agreed to operate a three-ship rotation serving ports in Korea, Japan, Guam, the CNMI, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands.

"This new agreement underscores Matson’s and Kyowa’s long-term commitment to providing the highest levels of service to Guam and Micronesia," said Vic Angoco, Matson senior vice president, Pacific.

Angoco noted that both Matson and Kyowa have longstanding relationships with the region’s business community and "have made considerable investments in strengthening the ocean transportation infrastructure that bridges Guam with the U.S. and Asia."

By leveraging their expertise in the market, Angoco said the two shipping companies "will focus on better positioning the region for growth in international trade."

According to Matson’s press release, the new chartering agreement will allow the company to continue to offer biweekly service to Ebeye, Kwajalein, Majuro, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Palau.

"Matson’s weekly service to Saipan will be unaffected, as it operates under an existing connecting agreement with Saipan shipping," the press release said.

Angoco said the new agreement with Kyowa will allow Matson to offer fixed day arrivals every two weeks to Marshall Islands, FSM and Palau."

"The assets deployed in this agreement also will ensure greater reliability for all of the ports in this region," he said.

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