American 48-year-old boxship reactivated

The world’s oldest containership of over 500 teu has been reactivated after 11 months in lay-up.

The American flagged, 48-year-old Lihue has been deployed by Matson as an extra sailer to supplement the three 1,668 teu ships that the company deploys on its Alaska and Aleutian Islands Jones Ac’ service, according to Alphaliner.

The veteran 1,979 teu ship is set to be scrapped along with two other ancient Matson ships in the next 12 months. Two other ships of a similar vintage have already been sold for scrap this year as a series of newbuilds deliver for the American company.

The Lihue was originally built in 1971 as a barge carrier of the LASH type (Lighter Aboard SHip) named Thomas E Cuffe, honouring the memory of the founder of the Pacific Far East Line (PFEL). The barge carrier was converted to a boxship in 1977.

The Lihue is the second oldest boxship in operation around the world today. The Paraguayan 482 teu Explorador, owned by Navemar, is one year older and continues to ply the River Plate.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Compared to the Lakers and to a couple of the older tugs on the Great Lakes (one I saw recently was 98 years old and still operating), the Lihue is a mere youngster.
    The Jones Act has done the US merchant marine no favours.

  2. Best designed engine room ever. Most gorgeous design – you Debbie Downers have no soul. 10 years on LASH and converted LASH ships. Well thought out – Geez, I am a dinosaur … and you still have no soul.

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