Precious Cargo

Every issue of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi spends its first week traveling the Pacific. We went along for the journey.

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Day 4: Saturday

After witnessing another superlative sunrise, I spend the day in the ship’s library reading about the maritime industry and the origins of Pasha. Back in the 1940s, George Pasha Jr. ran a service station across from Fort Mason in San Francisco. He and his son George Pasha III began storing automobiles for military troops deployed to the Pacific. Over the ensuing decades, the family business expanded to include stevedoring, freight-forwarding, and trucking services at numerous ports around the United States and in Okinawa, Japan.

In 1999, the company formed Pasha Hawaii, a marine shipping division to compete with Matson and Horizon Lines, the two companies then carrying cargo between Hawai‘i and the U.S. continent. It took six years to build Pasha’s first vessel, the Jean Anne, a Jones Act compliant boat.

The Jones Act dictates that any boat transporting goods between U.S. ports must be built, owned, and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents—and multicultural as the  Jean Anne‘s  crew is, everyone aboard  meets this requirement.  Jones Act ships are beholden to U.S. labor, tax, and environmental laws, which means that the sailors aboard the  Jean Anne  also  receive fair pay and have to abide by national clean air and water standards.  Since the Jones Act prevents ships from outside the United States from bringing goods directly to Hawai‘i, it supports the U.S. shipbuilding industry and  protects an essential component of the economy—the on-time delivery of goods—from outside interference.

Four years after launching the Jean Anne, Pasha Hawaii built its second vessel. The Marjorie C is a hybrid ro-ro and container ship. It transports cars and regular household cargo, plus refrigerated goods. In 2015, Horizon Lines sold its Hawai‘i business to Pasha, along with four container ships. Pasha remains a smaller operation than its sole competitor, Matson, but the third-generation family business continues to grow its market share. Two new container ships will join Pasha’s fleet this year: the George III and Janet Marie. These LNG dual-fueled vessels are designed to significantly reduce the company’s fuel consumption and emissions.

In 2018, Hurricane Maria highlighted the importance of maintaining an American-flagged fleet. Pasha Hawaii was able to swiftly bring aid to the beleaguered population of Puerto Rico: One Pasha container ship alone was able to deliver fifteen million bottles of drinking water to San Juan. As I fall asleep that night, I reflect on the fact that if a major storm hits Hawai‘i, it will be people like Captain Bond and his crew who will deliver life-saving supplies to the Islands.

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