MV Samoa Express II officially commissioned
The MV Samoa Express II was officially christened on Friday afternoon.
The turquoise vessel docked at the Apia Harbour was commissioned with the traditional cracking of the coconut by the caretaker Minister of Works Infrastructure and Transport, Papalii Niko Lee Hang following a devotional attended by Cabinet.
The vessel came at a cost of $10 million tala the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said in his speech during the ceremony.
The vessel's international safety standard requirements, insurance and tax duty amongst other necessary costs to get the vessel to Samoa incurred costs of $3.5 million, he added.
Tuilaepa congratulated the Samoa Shipping Corporation Limited for a job well done, noting that the costs were borne solely by the Corporation.
He revealed that the vessel was built in 2013 in Malaysia.
It is 49.95 meters long and 13.8 meters wide with the capacity to load a maximum of 473 tons.
Travellers between Upolu and Savaii will no longer fear a lengthy trip on the MV Fotu o Samoa as the newest addition to the fleet only takes one hour per trip, similar to the MV Lady Samoa III.
On the vessel, there is an air-conditioned room for passengers on the second floor, while the lower deck is fully open for cargo and vehicles.
Tuilaepa noted that the newly commissioned ferry will help to ease the influx of demand from travellers between the two main islands during the election period that is four weeks ahead.
He also said the vessel will assist greatly as backup, especially during this time of COVID-19 or in the case of natural disasters.
Its arrival will bring the number of ships expected to operate to three, said Leitaua, including the Lady Samoa III and Fotu-o-Samoa II.
The Australian crew of six who brought in the vessel are expected to leave on the March 5 flight out of Samoa.
The crew left Queensland early last month, February 12 and arrived on February 26, last Friday.
The news of the vessel's arrival last Friday was revealed by Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti following an endorsement from the Prime Minister who said it was a good development for Samoa, noting the newer vessels are faster whereas ships used in the past took about three hours for a one-way trip.