Experts say these aging inter island ships – 70 to be exact – are not good for the country’s open sea routes and seasonal rough waters. However, they have found their way here, mainly because strict Japanese shipping laws mandate that these vessels have to be “retired” after 20 years and decommissioned or sold abroad.
Perhaps this explains the long list of maritime accidents the Philippines has suffered through the years. It may well be the reason why the country has the dubious distinction as the maritime accident capital of the world.
With the recent launching of M/V Starlite Saturn, its fourth new ro-ro vessel at the Batangas Port, Starlite Ferries Inc. marks yet another milestone in its continuing effort to modernize interisland travel in the country.
Starlite Ferries President Francis Cusi said the company has initially ordered seven ships from Japan. The newest addition to the Starlite fleet follows the customized design of the three earlier ones.
M/V Starlite Saturn has a service speed of 13.5 knots (nautical miles per hour). She has a rounded hull that rests deeper in the water for greater stability, bow thruster for vessel assistive maneuverability, and a bulbous bow that allows it to cut through waves more efficiently. The 2,700-gross ton ship can ferry 711 passengers and 20 drivers in bunk comfortably on its upper decks and hold up to 21 buses.
Starlite’s fleet of brand new ro-ro vessels has undergone stringent inspection by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai or Class NK, a member of the International Association of Classification Society that provides certification and classification services to 20% of the world’s fleet.
Each stage of development of the vessels, from design to planning to production, has been meticulously crafted by some of the world’s best marine designers and engineers, creating a world-class open-water, seagoing vessel.
Starlite Ferries is a 100% Filipino-owned company that started operations in 1995 with its first route Batangas-Calapan (Mindoro). To date, Starlite brought convenience to Filipino sea travelers by opening new routes such as Roxas-Caticlan, Roxas-Odiongan, and guarantees more routes to open as it connects Luzon to Mindanao.
With the Philippines composed of thousands of islands, Starlite’s modern ro-ro vessels can significantly boost tourism in the country since they can facilitate trips to various tourist destinations. Tourists and residents alike can now afford to explore different islands with ease, safety, and comfort as Starlite vessels provide a scenic alternative to road and air travel.