Tote’s plan for Hawaii service boosted with allocation of piers at planned terminal

US domestic shipping line Tote Maritime’s plan to start a new service between Hawaii and the mainland took a big step forward on Thursday when it was allocated piers at the planned Kapalama Container Terminal (KCT) in Honolulu Harbor.

Tote was already revealed in August to be the customer who placed orders with Philly Shipyard for two 3,700 teu container ships intended to ply the Hawaii route. And it has options to order the building of two more. The first two are set to be delivered in 2020 and 2021.

Now the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors Division, which administers the commercial harbor system in the islands, has allocated Pier 1 and Pier 2 of KCT to Tote.

But the Princeton, New Jersey-based line must wait for KCT infrastructure improvements to be completed before it can launch the Hawaii service. Phase one of the KCT project is expected to begin in December this year.

Tote has more than 40 years of experience running dedicated services to Alaska and Puerto Rico.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.


  1. It’s been a whirlwind week for the local waterfront here. The initial news was that TOTE was turned away from anything here in Honolulu. At least that was the ‘implication’ from other reports (and rumors) locally. Some of this misunderstanding stemmed from a news release concerning Matson. It stated Matson would absorb the old container yard now occupied by PASHA (which we already knew). Secondly, it stated PASHA was getting the “commitment” from local DOT authority to have exclusive use of the newly built terminal. BTW….that will be many years away, based on how slow any capital improvement projects managed by our state gov’t evolve. The idea that the new terminal will be ready anytime soon is, sadly, not realistic.

    But the confusion began when the entry of TOTE still seemed uncertain. Where will they operate? The idea that TOTE will start a new service and utilize the ‘foreign’ container yard at Piers 1 and 2 is a bit of a joke. There is little room for any more than what is already going on there. Even after PASHA moves their auto operation over to their new terminal, the space available for TOTE will be hamstrung from the start. The yard is already “shared” by other auto carriers that call at Honolulu. It is also used by NYK liner service. It is finally used by all ‘one off’ calls by various carriers to offload special project cargoes at a deepwater berth.

    Finally, there is an area that could be utilized for more space for a container yard, but currently is an old warehouse converted for the use by Honolulu’s growing homeless population. Good luck with shutting that down without the social justice warriors putting up a good fight.

    I have been commenting for years that Hawaii’s political leadership has NEVER appreciated the maritime industry’s value and importance to our local economy. The surrounding lands on our waterfront have been taken away, literally inch by inch, for other purposes having nothing to do with maritime utilization. Lo and behold, another carrier proposes to enter into the Hawaii trade and this is good for local residents. The problem? There is nowhere for them to (efficiently) operate.

    TOTE setting up operation at Honolulu’s Pier 1/2 container yard (once used by Matson a generation ago) will require much improvement that, pending the financial resources of TOTE (and the State of Hawaii DOT), will be expensive and time-consuming. There are NO container gantry cranes. The pier (once upon a time very long ago) had relatively smaller gantry style cranes when Matson operated there years before. I’m not certain the pilings supporting the pier can sustain the operation of present-day gantry cranes. NYK uses a rotating Liebher style crane to move containers off of relatively small (150meter) ships. Can’t imagine their use on a FULL discharge and backload of TOTE’s newest ships without taking several days to do so.

    I believe all this is a long way off from being resolved to everyone’s satisfaction and to actually be put in place. We’ll see. One bright note; TOTE can finish building their ships and “could” put them in service immediately using Pier 1/2. But the caveat for PASHA to move out first is a hurdle. PASHA has moved before (a few times) at the discretion of the State DOT. It’s possible that there is an alternative to PASHA staying at Pier 1/2. They could move elsewhere for their auto operation, relatively quickly and easily, with little financial costs. That would open the door to TOTE’s entry very quickly. If that happened, the impact on Matson and PASHA would be much sooner than later.

    We shall see.

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