The Commonwealth Ports Authority wants the controversy-laden MV Luta vessel out of the Saipan seaport and back on Rota.
The unmanned and inoperable vessel is believed to be occupying space at the Saipan seaport that blocks commerce and the cost for the use of space remains unpaid as the bill continues to pile up.
At a recent CPA board meeting, ports committee chair Pete Reyes said the board needs to start planning what to do with MV Luta.
“It is preventing other ships [from coming] in and I am worried that if there is a tropical storm, what are we going to do with it? We cannot just take it out because it needs a captain and a crew,” Reyes said.
“At one time, I was informed by our port manager [Rodney James Taisacan] that the seaport manager allowed the ship to be taken out by our own captain at their expense. But I feel that it is a problem because it may be a possible litigation and liability issue,” he added.
MV Luta is at the center of a civil case between investor Takahisa Yamamoto and the owners of Luta Mermaid LLC. The ship is currently anchored at the Charlie Dock.
According to CPA board member Barrie Toves, this might be another Freedom Air fiasco, with the CPA being left with nothing to collect, referring to the airline company that has declared bankruptcy.
“Obviously, MV Luta is not moving anywhere. They are currently being charged a higher rate to stay on Saipan because its homeport is down on Rota.”
Toves said that one way to help those who are squabbling over MV Luta is to convince them to relocate the vessel to its homeport on Rota.
“The ship is also hampering operations. Other ships come in…and they are going to need space. So it’s going to cost them again to get their own captain and be on board to take the ship out. The cost is piling up,” he added.
Quoting the U.S. Coast Guard, CPA lawyer Robert Torres said “the ship cannot be relocated, it will be stationary until it is fully manned.”
“Right now, it is dead in the water,” he added.
According to CPA executive director Chris Tenorio, efforts to communicate with the owner of Luta Mermaid LLC have not been answered.
Saipan Tribune tried to obtain comments from Luta Mermaid LLC about the issues brought up by the CPA but has not received a response as of press time.