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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the six magnificent white-hulled Matson Line passenger ships that sailed between California, Hawaiʻi and the South Seas from 1927 until 1978.

S.S. LURLINE • photo by Stephen Berry © 1967

The four original "white ships" - MALOLO (later MATSONIA), MARIPOSA, MONTEREY and LURLINE - were built during the 1920s and 30s, the heyday of steamship travel. Two younger sisters, the MONTEREY and MARIPOSA, followed in the mid 1950s, continuing the "Grand Manner of Matson" across the Pacific until the mid 1970s. 

1934 MATSON ad, photo by Edward Steichen

LURLINE approaching Honolulu, 1960s

Proudly flying the American flag to some of the world's most exotic and remote ports of call, Matson's luxury liners were the last word in performance and style during their five decades of service.

MARIPOSA  launching at Fore River, Mass., 1932. 

The ships' voyages connected California, the Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia across vast, historic trade routes. Their regular sailings enabled a lasting wave of tourism, migration and commerce in the region that continues today.  Influencing trans-Pacific relations on a broad scale, the white ships were also responsible for countless shipboard connections for passengers, crew and their descendants.

MATSONIA Captain Hans Matthieson, 1958

MONTEREY in Sydney • photo by Stephen Berry © 1967

Fortunately, the memory and legacy of the white ships remains strong today. Aboard the ships and in their promotional material, Matson's celebration of the culture and art of Hawaiʻi and Polynesia have become an iconic and vivid reminder of the golden age of ocean travel. Images and stories from the era depict prosperity, genuine happiness and a carefree, glamorous style.  

LURLINE maiden arrival in Sydney, 1933. 

The white ships' enduring legacy is also a testament to the strength of American maritime industry in the twentieth century, which Matson continues to represent today with their U.S.-flagged trans-Pacific container service. The company was started in San Francisco in 1882 by founder, William Matson, and. remains the primary freight carrier between the US mainland and Hawaiʻi. 

Daniel K. Inouye making its first approach to Honolulu in 2018. (Matson Inc.)

Captain William Matson, company founder.

mastontohawaii_banner.png is the home port for online content related to the Matson passenger ship era. It was created by Duncan OʻBrien, whose parents met on the MONTEREY in 1962. The site features the finest and most spectacular items from Duncan's collection of images, films, artwork and memorabilia, acquired during two decades of research for his three books: The White Ships (2009), Matson the Mouse (2012), and The Grand Manner of Matson (2014).

We're excited to offer some of the images from the books for sale in our new White Ships Shop - exclusive photos and artwork professionally scanned and color corrected, for reproduction 

Duncan O'Brien

on the MONTEREY, 1977

The White Ships - 2009

Ka Palapala Po'okela award winner

Currently Out of Print

Matson the Mouse  - 2012

The Grand Manner of Matson - 2014

While we update the content on this site and develop our next White Ships projects, please follow us on our White Ships Facebook page below to view a portion of our collection of thousands of images and films, and connect with fellow White Ships enthusiasts. 




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