M/V Luta is preparing for its first trans-Pacific voyage to the CNMI from its current port in Louisiana.
Senate President Victor Hocog (R-Rota) hosted a meeting on Thursday with the owners of the vessel, the U.S. Coast Guard, the mayor of Rota, and other lawmakers to discuss the impending arrival of the vessel.
A statement from Hocog’s office said the meeting discussed the final modifications for M/V Luta as it prepares for international crossing and for interisland cargo service.
A christening ceremony is also set before the voyage.
According to the statement, Lt. Commander T.D. Harre, Chief of Prevention, has voiced concerns about the dangerous water conditions at the mouth of Rota harbor that needed immediate action, but a request has already been made to the Commonwealth Ports Authority for the necessary repairs.
In September 2014, Japanese businessman Takahisa Yamamoto invested a minimum of $1.6 million in a 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, a cargo and passenger ship.
“Luta” is other name for “Rota,” where the cargo ship will be home-ported.
The 150-foot long, 500-ton cargo ship is currently in Louisiana awaiting a certificate of inspection from the U.S. Coast Guard. The ship can accommodate 18 passengers and can carry up to 28 20-foot containers.
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.
Hocog said the company plans to provide farmers initial free freight costs to Guam “to realize more of their profits.”
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.