Matson Completes Horizon Lines Purchase

Emily Schwing/KUCB

The finalization of a deal to acquire Horizon Lines’ Alaska operations means the nation’s largest Jones Act shipping company no longer exists. The Matson Navigation Company says isn’t planning any major changes to shipping service in the state.

For decades, Horizon Lines provided regular shipping service between Tacoma, Washington and Anchorage, Kodiak and Unalaska. 

“The three ships that service the domestic service do provide groceries, mail and primarily supplies from primarily Tacoma and anchorage into the port of Dutch Harbor.” 00:12

That’s Peggy McLaughlin. She’s the Port Director for the city of Unalaska.

“They also relay cargo in from Kodiak to make connection to the international line haul ships,” McLaughlin said.

But Horizon Lines no longer exists. In December, the company ended its operations in Puerto Rico. Its Hawaii services were sold to the Pasha Group and last Friday, Matson Navigation Company finalized the acquisition of Horizon’s Alaskan operations for $469 million dollars. 

Matson Spokesman Jeff Hull declined to have his comments recorded, but in a phone interview he said any major changes following the acquisition are likely to be in name only.

“The acquisition was a matter of growth,” says Hull. 

He says Matson will retain the same union contracts, operate the same shipping schedule and continue to run the same three vessels in Alaska. Hull says there will be some minor restructuring to duplicate corporate positions in Washington State, but no personnel changes will be made on the ground in Alaska.

Peggy McLaughlin doesn’t anticipate any major changes in Dutch Harbor either.

“Unless there’s some reason for Matson to come out and sit down with us and discuss operational changes, we’re just going to assume that its’ business as usual,” she said.

Horizon Lines used Unalaska’s municipal dock for more than two decades. A special contract with the city lapsed at the end of 2013. Horizon then paid tariffs to move cargo through the port. Both McLaughlin and Hull anticipate that agreement to continue.

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