M/V Luta is now M/V Mariana

The controversial M/V Luta docked at the West Marina on Rota in this file photo. M/V Luta is now owned by a Guam company and operating as M/V Mariana. (Ferdie De La Torre)

Cargo ship M/V Luta has been renamed M/V Mariana and has started operations for Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam, according to Commonwealth Ports Authority board member Pete Reyes.

Reyes, who chairs the CPA board’s seaport facilities committee, gave the update on the status of M/V Mariana’s operations in a report that he submitted at a recent board meeting.

Asked by Saipan Tribune Wednesday night about the background of M/V Mariana, Reyes said it is the former M/V Luta and that he assumes it is now being run by a Guam company.

Reyes said he also assumes that M/V Mariana’s main home port is Rota.

The former senator said the company has yet to formally set the schedule or dates of M/V Mariana’s operations.

Reyes looks forward to the ship’s full operations, believing it will help the people of Rota and enhance the island’s economy.

“I’m grateful to whoever owns the company that owns it,” said Reyes, adding that he hopes for its quick operations as this would help improve the lives of the people of Rota and Tinian, where goods are expensive. “My desire is to see this kind of result,” Reyes said.

CPA board member Barrie C. Toves, who is from Rota, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that he was informed by a ports official during their last committee meeting that Saipan is the home port of M/V Mariana.

Toves said the ship started providing services between Guam, Rota, and Saipan last month.

Toves is unsure, though, if the vessel also goes to Tinian as the island already has two operating ships.

He confirmed that the owner of M/V Mariana is a company in Guam.

In October 2016, Japanese investor Takahisa Yamamoto sued then-lieutenant governor Victor Hocog, Luta Mermaid LLC, and its officers for allegedly refusing to pay back the $3.4 million that he put up for M/V Luta.

In June 2018, Yamamoto dropped his lawsuit.

The Luta Mermaid LLC officers are Abelina T. Mendiola, Deron T. Mendiola, and Fidel S. Mendiola III.

Yamamoto counsel George Hasselback told Saipan Tribune last year that M/V Luta is already in Guam and that another company now owns the vessel.

Hasselback also disclosed that Yamamoto has returned to Japan and that there was no settlement agreement reached between Yamamoto, Hocog, Luta Mermaid LLC, and its officers.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com
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