M/V Luta is first large RORO vessel for CNMI, says Torres
Tag: business, CNMI, Coast Guard, RORO
M/V Luta will have a significant economic impact in the Commonwealth as the first roll on/roll off vessel that can carry cargo, multiple vehicles, and passengers to and from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
The 165-foot vessel can carry 20 passengers and 30, 20-foot container vans, according to Lt. Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres.
Torres was in Louisiana last week to attend M/V Luta’s christening.
He said the vessel will soon sail for Rota after a few design tweaks are finalized. The trip from the U.S. mainland to the CNMI is estimated to take from “30 to 40 days” depending on weather conditions.
“The vessel is huge. I think it can help businesses engaged in import and export,” Torres said, citing the vessel’s capacity.
The official said the vessel can also carry multiple vehicles, unlike an existing vessel in the CNMI that can only carry one.
Torres also said the vessel can even serve Guam and Saipan and can transport vehicles. This can drastically reduce transport costs of vehicles, Torres said.
He said the M/V Luta will most probably dock at Rota’s West Harbor.
Torres added that as of the moment, business details such as passenger fares and cargo fees have not been disclosed and it will be up to the operator to set the fees.
The vessel, after getting the clearance from the U.S. Coast Guard, will need to secure clearance from the Commonwealth Ports Authority and Customs Border Protection once it lands in the CNMI, Torres added.
Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig earlier said M/V Luta will have an impact on Rota, as it is expected to help the island’s tourism and business sectors.
According to Atalig, one of the immediate impacts will be the lowering of ferry fares and transport costs of goods.
In January, Senate President Victor B. Hocog (Ind-Rota) hosted a meeting with the owners of the vessel, the U.S. Coast Guard, and officials of Rota to discuss the impending arrival of the vessel.
In September 2014, Japanese businessman Takahisa Yamamoto invested about $1.6 million in the retrofitted cargo and passenger ship that will bring passengers, agricultural goods, and other consumer items to and from Rota, Saipan, Tinian, the Northern Islands, and Guam.
Yamamoto, from Osaka, Japan, owns Luta Mermaid LLC, the main business of which is to operate M/V Luta.
“Luta” is other name for “Rota,” where the cargo ship will be home-ported.
The 165-foot-long, 500-ton cargo ship was in Louisiana to obtain a certificate of inspection from the U.S. Coast Guard. .
Hocog, who has helped Yamamoto realize his plan to further develop Rota, said having a cargo ship home-ported on Rota will reduce freight costs and lower the price of commodities.
The senator said this cargo ship will also be the “answer” to Rota’s longstanding problem of food and other commodities shortage every time barges cannot go into the port because of rough seas.