The MV Odyssey belongs to the PSSS classification “Basic Short-Distance Ferry-RORO” (BSDFR). BSDFR’s are the smallest RORO vessels and they bridge islands well within sight of each other. Transit times are usually from a sub-hour to a few hours. They are the most ubiquitous of Philippine ferries and makes several trips within a day. With them inter-modal trucks and buses became a reality.
BSDFR’s revolve around 30 meters in length and less than 10 meters in width. Mostly from Japan, they were commonly based on one general design made by their MITI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) to simplify design and lessen cost. In effect, many of them are actually sister ships or “cousins”. They can generally carry only 6 long trucks in one car deck with also only one passenger deck above with the bridge usually located in that same deck.
MV Odyssey as the name suggests has an interesting odyssey (pun intended). Built by Towa in 1970 in Shimonoseki, Japan, she was first known as Magome Maru No. 3. She then came to Starlite Ferries just before the turn of the millennium and was named the MV Starlite Odyssey and based in Batangas. After a few years she was sold to Alabat Shipping and was renamed the MV Odyssey and she took on the connector route to Alabat island using the ports of Alabat and Atimonan in Quezon province.
In 2013 she was sold to Denica Lines of Pilar, Sorsogon and she ran the Pilar-Masbate City route linking Sorsogon province and Masbate island. Her name was retained simply to save on government fees. She leaves Pilar port at dawn and arrives in Masbate port past breakfast time after a trip of nearly 4 hours. She then leaves Masbate for Pilar before noon and she will spend the night in Pilar to await the trucks and buses coming from Manila and CALABARZON.
MV Odyssey is also a bounty-of-the-sea specialist. She carries seafood in ice from Sorsogon in styrofoam boxes for trans-shipment to Cebu. That is one of the businesses of her owner Carolyn Cua-Sy who also owns other ships and many boats. They are also the local power in Pilar but this is written not in a derogatory way. The Regina motor bancas also belong to Denica Lines and actually MV Odyssey could be considered the flagship of their fleet however humble she looks to be.
There is no ticketing office for MV Odyssey. Everything is like in the old days when one or the vehicle goes straight to the ship and pays by the table adjacent to the stairs then one simply selects a seat he or she likes. There is no more air conditioning in the former Tourist Class and all accommodations are considered Economy now including the row of seats leading to the stern. For food there is a simple canteen but aside from that there will be vendors aboard — just like the old days before ISPS (International System of Port Security) came into place.
MV Odyssey has a raked stem with a bow ramp (another characteristic of BSDFRs) and a transom stern with a single mast. Her Overall Length (LOA) is 30.5 meters with a Breadth of 7.0 meters and a Depth of 2.6 meters. Her Gross Tonnage (GT) or overall volume is 176 and her Net Tonnage, the space for passengers, crew and cargo is 89 tons. Her carrying capacity in Deadweight Tons (DWT) is 70. She can do 10 knots maximum on her single 550-hp Kubota engine while carrying 250 passengers. Her international ID is IMO 7046637. Though over 40 years old which is their theoretical maximum service life she is still reliable although a little battered-looking.
She was not designed for beauty. She was only meant to be a workhorse and she is that.
MORE PHOTOS: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjLhSEVi