The ferry “Mae Wess 4” is the latest and biggest ferry in the combined Mae Wess and CW Cole fleet that connects Samal island to the mainland of Davao through the private Caliclic port in Samal and the private Mae Wess port in Sasa, Davao City. She might look like an LCT (Landing Craft Transport) but in actuality she is not as she is not flat-bottomed and she has the hull-form of a traditional ship.

Mae Wess 4 ©Aristotle Refugio
The ferry “Mae Wess 4” was built in a yard just adjacent to the Caliclic port, both of which are owned by Eduardo Bangayan of Davao City. Mr. Bangayan also owns the ferry company along with associated transportation businesses, one of which is the Island City Express buses that are loaded in Mae Wess ferries and which connect Samal destinations to Davao City. The key workers that built “Mae Wess 4” are not Davao-locals; they were veteran ship builders/repairers from the shipyards of Cebu. She was completed in the year 2012.
Mae Wess 4 under construction ©Mike Baylon

She only has one ramp – at the bow. But being wide (at 11.2 meters) relative to her length (of 42.7 meters) the vehicles do not need to embark or disembark backwards as in the case of most ROROs with only one ramp. The rolling cargoes instead make a U-turn at the stern and the first vehicle will park near the bow ramp at the starboard side. There is an “island” that divides the port side from the starboard side.

Mae Wess 4 loading scheme ©Aristotle Refugio

Like LCTs her passenger space is limited considering she takes in buses. However, the bus passengers no longer get off while sailing as do the passengers and drivers of the private vehicles, trucks and motorcycles. In fact many passengers not connected with the vehicles just stand up during the 15-minute trip instead of going up the passenger half-deck at the bridge level. But if it rains they have to go up as this ferry does not have full scantling.

Mae Wess 4 Passender deck ©Janjan Salas

She is powered two Weichai marine engines that totals 900 horsepower and sourced brand-new from China. Her bridge equipment and controls are also China-made and she has one set of controls only. Being new the machinery is still reliable and responsive. Running her route she usually does about 8 knots but that is not the maximum speed.

Mae Wess 4 bridge controls ©Mike Baylon
If shw has any weakness it seems it emanates from her design where the deck is much wider than the hull. On heeling it seems she takes longer than usual to regain balance. However, she has no incident so far even though the cross-current of Pakiputan can be swift at times.
With traffic growing fast between Samal and Davao including the rise of aggregates trucks that cross regularly she is a very successful ferry. Her trips run from early morning up to evening almost without pause. Her owner should be very satisfied in that.
Mae Wess 4 ©Aristotle Refugio

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