1. Working for Matson

Terminals logo

Matson logo

Toward the end of my active duty with the Navy I began to think about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I went to job interviews at a number of firms in the San Francisco Bay Area, and finally ended up with Matson Terminals, a subsidiary of the steamship operator Matson Navigation Company. Matson Terminals was a stevedore firm (loading and discharging of vessels) and they were the only company I talked to that placed some significance on my Navy experience aboard a cargo vessel. The parent company was mainly involved with interstate commerce, primarily to and from Hawaii and the West Coast, but also Guam and other Pacific territories. Matson Terminals was the stevedore for the parent company, but also had other “outside” customers as well. The Vietnam war was heating up at the time and Matson Terminals had the contract to do all the stevedore work for the Oakland Army Terminal. The Army Terminal was all conventional cargo, but Matson, in general, was a pioneer on the West Coast for containerized cargo traffic. At the time there was only one container crane in the SF Bay Area and that was in Alameda, next to the Dole Pineapple warehouses, one of Matson’s big customers. Now, If you drive through the Port of Oakland, for instance, you can see container canes from horizon to horizon.

I had a split tour with Matson, working for Terminals for two years before trying my hand at the electronics industry in Silicon Valley for a couple of years. Then it was back to the parent company Matson Navigation for another four years. My combined tenure with Matson was in their Industrial Engineering Department. In general, the work was not very exciting or creative. It was usually, “fix this problem here” or “come up with a solution to that problem there.”

There was, however, one project that I remember distinctly as being quite satisfying from start to finish. It was the design and construction of a brand-new container terminal in the Port of Los Angels starting with approximately fifty acres of vacant land and ending with a state-of-art container terminal. As I remember, the project ran on for well over a year and I was the principal engineer for Matson in charge of the conceptual design. I had to deal regularly with the civil engineers at the Port of Los Angeles who did the detailed “stress and strain” work. I became a regular commuter between SF and LA, sometimes flying back and forth two, or even three times, a week. I was very proud of the final result. It was impressive, and I remember thinking “This is without a doubt the best marine container terminal in the world.” It did make the industry news worldwide. Here are two aerial photographs of the completed terminal:

Matson's Newly Completed Container Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles

Matson's Newly Completed Container Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles

Cover Girl

Cover Girl

Text for cover

Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday, February 20th, 2010 Matson Navigation Co. No Comments