By VOICES Staff.


In the wake of the destructive wildfire that ravaged the town of Lāhainā in Maui, Hawaii, the men and women of American Maritime have once again demonstrated their critical role in disaster relief efforts. 

American Maritime’s Swift Response

American maritime companies have swiftly rallied to provide essential relief and aid to the affected communities in Maui. Among the key players, Matson, Pasha Hawaii and Young Brothers have emerged as pivotal partners in disaster response. Collaborating closely with federal, state and county agencies, the three shippers have been at the forefront of delivering vital supplies to the disaster-stricken island through their regular committed service.

Utilizing their Jones Act barge Haleakala, Matson has successfully transported over 300 containers of general cargo to Maui to date. This vessel has become the linchpin of Matson’s response efforts, working in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local nonprofit organizations to ensure the swift and efficient delivery of much-needed supplies. All of this relief cargo for non-profits has been “moving gratis or at discounted rates” according to American Maritime Partnership president Ku’uhaku Park, a Hawaii resident, in a Letter to the Editor to the Boston Globe correcting the paper on the role of American Maritime in supporting disaster relief efforts in Hawaii. 

 In addition, the carrier has been an essential partner to transport FEMA equipment and other supplies as well as food donated by the Hawaii Food Industry Association. FEMA has been able to acquire and transport 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, 5,000 cots, 10,000 blankets and other shelter supplies to the Maui County government enabled by American Maritime’s investments in the state. 

In collaboration with organizations on the mainland, Pasha has been a leader in coordinating donation drives and providing direct donations to nonprofits. Hawaii Stevedores, a sister company of Pasha, has partnered with the International Longshore Workers Union and others to drive collection efforts and donate services on the West Coast to be shipped to Maui for free. Pasha Hawaii has also made a generous donation of $25,000 to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. This fund is dedicated to aiding the communities affected by the wildfire. These collaborative endeavors highlight the maritime industry’s commitment to supporting the recovery and well-being of affected areas.

Additionally, American-built, crewed and owned carriers Matson, Pasha and Young Brothers have continued uninterrupted, regularly scheduled service to Maui, ensuring a consistent flow of goods to the island. 

The Jones Act’s Impact

Central to these operations is the Jones Act, a bedrock law that requires all goods transported between U.S. points to be carried on vessels that are built, owned and crewed by Americans. Its relevance in times of crisis cannot be overstated.

“The Jones Act is currently ensuring a timely and faster response than one would see if we relied solely on foreign shipping,” said Dr. Sal Mercogliano, a professor of history at Campbell University and host of the popular What’s Going on With Shipping YouTube show. 

While foreign ships are not prevented from sailing to Hawaii, or anywhere else in the United States from foreign ports, they have been largely quiet on any support given to help Maui recover.

The Jones Act promotes the growth of the American maritime industry, fostering a robust fleet of vessels, maritime infrastructure and mariners. This is evident in Hawaii, where the foundational law provides 13,000 jobs and contributes $3.3 billion annually to the state’s economy. This strength becomes particularly apparent during disaster relief efforts like in Maui. The domestic fleet’s capability to swiftly adjust routes, prioritize shipments and work in coordination with government agencies plays a pivotal role in disaster management.

A Call for Continued Support

As the recovery process continues in Maui, the call for support remains strong. Those interested in assisting the affected communities are encouraged to contribute to the Red Cross and the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. This fund is dedicated to providing direct aid and resources to those in need; and every donation, no matter the size, makes a significant impact.

This collective response underscores the industry’s solidarity in times of crisis, reinforcing the notion that American Maritime is not only essential for commerce, but also an invaluable partner in disaster relief. The ability to efficiently transport emergency supplies, equipment and aid between U.S. ports is a testament to the strength of the industry’s infrastructure and its commitment to the well-being of the nation’s communities. 

If you know someone who wants to learn more about what is going on in Maui and how the men and women of American Maritime are standing up to help support our community in Hawaii, share this article with them!

Share on Twitter/X, Facebook or LinkedIn.