Shipping Chief assures safety, Govt. looks for new ferry
The MV Lady Samoa vessel which sails between Samoa and American Samoa is twenty one years old and its condition is deteriorating.
But the Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.), Papali’i Willie Nansen, said although the vessel is old, it is still safe for operation.
In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Papali'i also confirmed the Government is seeking assistance from Japan for a new vessel to replace Lady Naomi.
“MV Lady Naomi is currently 21 years old and her condition deteriorates and worsens every year,” Papali’i wrote in an email to the Samoa Observer.
“Although old in age but indeed the vessel is in good and safe operational conditions of which it is getting very costly to maintain and repair, as well as getting difficult to meet and comply with international safety requirements guiding its operations."
The C.E.O. said the Government has already submitted a request for a new ferry from Japan.
“ The vessel, MV Lady Naomi has reached its 20th year of operation which is determined to be its useful life and a replacement Ferry is pretty much of top priority given MV Lady Naomi’s current deterioration conditions."
The C.E.O. was contacted for a comment following a complaint by a traveler who was on the vessel that travels between Pago Pago and the Matautu wharf in Apia. The complainant raised concerns over the state of the boat and had supplied photos to support his concern.
He also questioned the condition of the vessel, which includes lavatories and “vibration” during voyages, which is suspected to be caused by worn shaft bearing.
In response, Papali’i made it clear that “the drum containing the cable can turn and wind up the cable whenever the lever is released in an emergency".
“S.S.C. continues to test these equipment on a monthly basis and bear in mind there are also external Surveyors and Inspectors such as Lloyds for Class, U.S. Coast Guard for Certificate of Compliance Test and M.W.T.I. (Samoa) for annual/intermediate surveys who also test these equipment (lowering and hoisting lifeboats) to ensure and confirm the lifeboats are readily available in times of emergency,” he added.
As for concerns about the vessel’s vibration, Papali’i pointed out “there are numerous cause of ship vibration of which worn shaft bearing is one of them”.
“However, MV Lady Naomi undergoes dry docking in American Samoa in 2018 and shaft bearings for both port and starboard side were replaced in the presence of Class and Flag State Surveyors.”
Subsequently, he explained, it is important to note that vibration during trips can somehow be caused by hydrodynamic of water around the hull being submerged in relation to the load capacity of the ship.
Asked about concerns on hygiene especially lavatories for men raised, Papali’i said the corporation is always concerned about the safety and the hygiene of the travelling public on board.
In reference to the photo sent to him from the concern traveler, Papali’i said the colour change in the bowl is due to sea water being used to flush toilets and urine bowls except washing basins, which used fresh water.
“The bluish colour is due to toilet blocks refreshers, which melts and stick to the bowls,” he said.
“Lavatories are cleaned upon arrival and prior to the vessels departure from each terminals.
“We always keep the lavatories hygienic and clean as much as possible,” said the C.E.O.
“This is a testimony of our compliance with the Ministry of Health’s inspection of our vessel twice every six months which includes the lavatories.
“Indeed it is a priority and S.S.C. is keen to invest in replacing and renewing all lavatories on board its vessels.”
Lastly, Papali’i said let it be known that S.S.C. is no way trying to be defensive but to direct their response to the issues and complaints raised.
“I apologize for our (office) not having met the expectation of the travelling public,” he said.
“I can understand how upsetting this has been to some but I can assure you that we have taken these concerns very seriously.
“At S.S.C., we strive to deliver the best service to the travelling public and I regret that this was not the experience encountered by some.
“We acknowledge our shortcomings and our staffs but rest assured we will continue to do better to improve the safe, hygienic and cleanness of the vessel in the future.”
This week, the S.S.C. issued a public notice advising members of the public the MV Lady Naomi will not go ahead with its trip to American Samoa scheduled this week.
According to the public notice in Samoan, the trip has been cancelled due to maintenance work for the vessel. The corporation will advise again when it will resume trips to American Samoa.
In the Samoa Ports Authority, Annual Report for year ended 30 June 2017, passengers arriving from and departing American Samoa through the Matautu port is estimated to have increased in the past years.
It stated those arriving and departing for American Samoa have increased from 8,691 in 2016 to 11,466 in 2017 with cargo also showing an increase from 448 tons in 2016 to 531 tons in 2017.
The following is the Samoa Observer question and answer with C.E.O. Papali'i:
Question: There have been complaint received from travellers taking the Lady Naomi about the state of the boat. One of the complaints concerns the life boat release mechanism which is claimed to be tied down and cannot be released in an emergency. Can you comment on this?
Answer: First of all, it is very important to know and understand the purpose and the use of the lifeboat release. The lifeboat release is the lever attached to the winch of the davit arm on the boat deck. The lever is released and the two drums (INNER drum containing the cable lowering the life boat to the sea and the OUTTER drum containing the remote control cable pulling the lever from inside the lifeboat. Therefore, the life boat release mechanism claimed to be tied down (as was referred to in the photo) was indeed the cable of the remote control but NOT the life boat release mechanism stated. Infact the drum containing the cable can turn and wind up the cable whenever the lever is released in an emergency.
QUESTION: What is S.S.C. doing about the life boat release mechanism to ensure passengers on the boat are safe if an emergency occurs? We are thinking of the boat tragedies in Tonga and Kiribati recently.
Answer: S.S.C. continues to test these equipments on a monthly basis and bear in mind there are also external Surveyors and Inspectors such as Lloyds for Class, US Coast Guard for Certificate of Compliance Test and MWTI (Samoa) for annual / intermediate surveys who also test these equipments (lowering and hoisting lifeboats) to ensure and confirm the lifeboats are readily available in times of emergency.
QUESTION: Looking at the photo and according to the complainant who is a retired engineer the vibration on the boat is a little more than he expected. He claims it could indicate worn shaft bearing? Can you comment on this?
Answer: There are numerous causes of ship vibration of which worn shaft bearing is one of them. However, MV Lady Naomi undergo dry-docking in American Samoa 2018 and shaft bearings for both port and starboard side were replaced in the presence of Class and Flag State Surveyors. It is important to note that vibration during trips can somehow be caused by hydrodynamic of water around the hull due to the hull being submerged in relation to the load capacity of the ship.
QUESTION: Another issue that was raised is the men's lavatory. Just by looking at the photo it indicates that it has not been cleaned for years. Is the S.S.C. management concerned about this?
Answer: Yes, we are always concern about the safety and the hygiene of the travelling public onboard our vessels. Looking at the photo, the colour change in the bowl is due to seawater being used to flush toilets and urine bowls except washing basins which used fresh water. The bluish colour is due to toilet blocks refreshers which melts and stick to the bowls. Lavatories are cleaned upon arrival and prior to the vessels departure from each terminals.
QUESTION: Why are the lavatories in such an unhygienic state? How often are they cleaned?
Answer: We always keep the lavatories hygienic and clean as much as possible. This is a testimony of our compliance with the Ministry of Health’s Inspection of our vessel twice every six months which includes the lavatories. Again lavatories are cleaned upon arrival and departure from each port
QUESTION: Should this not be a priority for the SSC management and invest in clean lavatories on the boat for passengers?
Answer: Indeed it is a priority and S.S.C. is keen to invest in replacing and renewing all lavatories onboard its vessels.