Marianas Variety

Last updateTue, 22 Oct 2019 12am







    Sunday, October 20, 2019-9:10:39A.M.






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MV Luta makes a splash on Guam

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — A month after its maiden voyage to its homeport in the Northern Marianas Islands, the MV Luta Mermaid made a port call to the island over the weekend.

The vessel can accommodate 20 passengers and up to 30 shipping containers and is expected to help reduce the cost of goods shipped between Guam, Rota and the region.

On Sunday, several individuals, including Speaker Judith Won Pat and Sen. Rory Respicio, both members of the Association of Pacific Island Legislatures were provided a tour of the vessel.

Won Pat and Respicio marveled at the capacity of the Luta Mermaid and lauded the efforts of the Mendiola family and partner investors for their forward thinking in capturing a niche market. Moreover, the APIL members said this bodes well for the entire region as a dedicated locally owned vessel may aid in reducing the cost of commodities region-wide.

“The cargo on the MV Luta that we saw included heavy equipment which will be transported to Tinian. So in addition to being able to carry consumables or just about anything that fits into a 40ft container, this cargo ship can also transport heavy equipment,” Respicio said. “I am excited about seeing the MV Luta and offer my continued support and congratulations to all involved for making this venture possible.”

Won Pat, an immediate past-president of the APIL added that she was glad that Fidel S. Mendiola, Jr. and family were able to put together the resources necessary for this investment and business undertaking.

“We are always sympathetic and know how difficult it is for all of us here in the Pacific to have a steady stream of goods, particularity consumables coming into the islands. We continue to collaborate through the members of APIL by exploring many initiatives to encourage this kind of service. Seeing the MV Luta this morning at the Port made me feel really good,” Won Pat said.

Won Pat and Respicio said a long-standing goal of the APIL was to seek avenues for providing reliable and affordable air and sea transportation to service the region. APIL is a regional organization consisting of senators from Guam, CNMI, Hawaii, Palau, Chuuk, Kosrea, Phonpei, Yap, Marshall Islands, American Samoa, Nauru, and Kiribati.

The ship’s primary investor is Takahisa Yamamoto, of Japan, he along with Fidel Mendiola and his wife Evelyn Mendiola and family are operating the MV Luta. It is a cargo/passenger ship from the CNMI operating under Luta Mermaid LLC.

During the christening of the ship in March, Evelyn Mendiola said they have sacrificed a lot of time and invested a lot of money to bring MV Luta to Rota. Mendiola said that in addition to the $3.5 million vessel price tag, an additional $5 million was invested to complete all the requirements as well as the training and certifications mandated by the U.S. Coast Guard in Lousiana.

Yamamoto said that in addition to the obvious business opportunities, his investment in the venture was a response to the hospitality he enjoys whenever he visits the island community.

Yamamoto said he “likes visiting Rota...loves the people and the culture of the island.” He added that he hoped his efforts would help the residents, especially in Rota, by providing them with a regular vessel that can transport goods from Guam to Rota and reduce the high price of commodities on Rota.

The MV Luta passed the required U.S. Coast Guard certification processes before it was allowed to sail commercially to the CNMI. The Commonwealth Ports Authority will oversee the operations and the company will firm up its schedule and the amount of passenger fare.

The MV Luta is 157 feet long and 38 feet wide with a 500-ton deck cargo capacity. It has a cruising speed of 12 knots.