Horizon Lines to modify Alaska ships

John Gillie, February 3, 2015, The News Tribune

Three Horizon Lines containerships that regularly call at the Port of Tacoma will be equipped with new emission control equipment to reduce pollution on their route between Tacoma and Alaska, the shipping line has announced.


The three D7 ships, the Horizon Tacoma, Horizon Anchorage and Horizon Kodiak, will be retrofitted with a pollution scrubbing system built by Netherlands-based Alfa Laval Aalborg Nijmegen BV to cut sulphur emissions from the ships’ main engines and generators. The conversions will begin in September with the Horizon Kodiak and be completed on all three vessels by the end of 2016.


The three ships, built in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, were initially put into service in 1987.


New federal regulations call for ships operating in U.S. waters to reduce the sulphur content of their exhausts. Horizon will meet those requirements now by burning ultra-low sulphur diesel. The new emissions control equipment, once operating, will allow the ships to burn less expensive higher sulphur-content fuel but still meet air pollution regulations, said the Dutch company.


Horizon’s approach to meeting the new pollution rules is different from that of its Tacoma competitor, Totem Ocean Trailer Express or TOTE. TOTE is retrofitting its two Alaska roll-on, roll-off trailerships with natural gas fuel systems to cut emissions.


Horizon, once part of Sea-Land Service, calls at Tacoma’s APM Terminal on the Sitcum Waterway. Its ships transport goods to the Alaskan ports of Anchorage, Kodiak and Dutch Harbor and return.


Horizon’s Alaska operations are being acquired by Matson Inc. Before Matson can complete the Horizon takeover, Horizon must obtain approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to sell its Hawaiian operations to the Pasha Group which already operates shipping services between California and Hawaii.


Horizon now operates a once-weekly service to Hawaii from Tacoma. The fate of that service under Pasha’s ownership is still to be decided. Horizon also has twice-weekly service from Los Angeles to Hawaii and once-weekly service from Oakland to the island state.


Horizon, Pasha, Matson and TOTE all operate what are called “Jones Act” shipping services between American states. Under that act, shipping services between American ports must be handled by U.S.-built ships staffed by American crews. Horizon last fall announced it was ending its Jones Act services between the East Coast and Puerto Rico, a U.S.

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