Ouano Wharf: A Place For Refittings

Retrieved from the old PSSS Website
written by: Mike Baylon

Whenever news that a vis-min shipping company would buy a new ship, one of the most asked questions is “Where would that ship be refitted?” For an archipelagic country like the Philippines, sea travel and short inter-island ferry services and trips are the swiftest way of transporting yourself to and from an island. But didn’t you ever how and where are these ships remodelled and refitted?

Ouano Wharf at Day


Ouano Wharf at Night ©Jonathan Bordon

Ouano Wharf Located at Mandaue City in the Island of Cebu is one of the busiest wharf of the country, is known to be the home of new ships bought from other countries like Japan, Korea and China are remodelled.

The history of Ouano Wharf was traced back during the early 70’s and was made into reality by industrialist Ernesto Cabrera Ouano Sr. He was a visionary who started his fortune in business with vast tact of salt beds and later converted the area into an “Industrialized Zone” making it one of the most busiest wharfs in Cebu. Along the piece of land is the ancestral house of the Ouanos. The Ouanos also owns a yacht that would carry the replica of the Holy Infant Jesus or better known as the Sto. Niño de Cebu during the yearly fluvial procession.

Busy Ouano Wharf ©Mark Ocul

Cebu, being the centre of the shipping industry of the Philippines, has the most number of inter-island shipping companies where their fleet would range from 40-100 meter ships and some of these companies operate a wide range of routes where there’s a need for a better and a faster ship.

Japan is one of the main sources of 2nd hand ships that are now being used by most of the local shipping companies in their operations. A delivery of a ship from Japan to the Philippines would last 5-7 days, depending on the route being used and on the speed of the ship. Most of the companies here in Cebu like Lite Shipping, Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Gothong Southern, Trans Asia Shipping Lines Inc., and Cebu Ferries Corporation would have their newly acquired 2nd hand ship remodelled and refitted in Ouano Wharf. Probably, the rental of the place is much cheaper than a regular shipyard, and accessibility to the main road is just 300 meters away.

One of the common things you will notice in Ouano wharf is that any shipping company can dock there and would probably have their ships repaired and remodelled there. The shipping company will also hire their own security guard to ensure peace and order on their ships. The company is also the one who will choose their own contractor and bring their own equipments, have their own power source by the use of generators and have the ship design by the Naval Architect hired by the owner.

Ouano Wharf Aerial View ©Raymond Lapus

Most of the ships that are bought from Japan are mostly for rolling cargoes and there is just a small passenger deck attached on the ship. Most of them too, has a bow ramp which is usually used when docking while they are still used by their own individual operators in Japan.

Take for instance, the Big Three of Cokaliong Shipping Lines Incorporated: MV Filipinas Cebu, MV Filipinas Ozamis, MV Filipinas Iligan. They all had a bow ramp in Japan and there was just a little space on a deck where passengers could stay. When they acquired their ships, they immediately had it dock in Ouano Wharf and had their new closed bow attached their. In addition, supplementary decks were also added in order for the ship to cater the demands of passenger accommodations. Cokaliong Shipping Lines Incorporated hired their own contractor.

Another good example is the Big Three of the Cebu Ferries Corporation. The MV Cebu Ferry 1, MV Cebu Ferry 2 and MV Cebu Ferry 3. They were all refitted in Ouano wharf when the company acquired them. The 3 decks of MV Cebu Ferry 2 and MV Cebu Ferry 3 were just added when they were being refitted their. On the original design, these 2 ships are just mostly used for rolling cargo and there were basically no room for passenger accommodations.

Cebu Ferry 2 reffited at Ouano Wharf

Filipinas Ozamis reffited at Ouano Wharf ©Vincent Paul Sanchez

The examples mentioned above are very good examples why most of the vis-min shipping companies would choose Ouano wharf as a place where they can refit their ships. There is freedom for the company to choose things that will be done to the ship in order for it to look good and be loved by the riding public.

These are some of the ships that were recently refitted in Ouano when a company acquired them:

Lite Shipping Corporation
MV Lite Ferry 8 (ex-Sta. Maria of Negros Navigation, ex-GP Ferry 1 of G&P Lines, built in Japan)
MV Lite Ferry 9 (ex-Daian 8, built and acquired in Japan)
MV Lite Ferry 10 (ex-Ferry Ezaki, built and acquired in Japan)
MV Lite Ferry 11 (built and acquired from Japan)
MV Lite Ferry 15 (built and acquired from Japan)
MV Lite Ferry 23 (ex-Ferry Misaki, built and acquired from Japan)

Trans Asia Shipping Lines Inc
MV Trans Asia 3 (ex-New Shikoku, built and acquired in Japan)
MV Trans Asia 5 (ex-Butuan Bay 1of Carlos A. Gothong Lines Inc, built and acquired from Japan)

Cebu Ferries Corporation
MV Cebu Ferry 1 (ex-Ferry Kumano, built and acquired from Japan)
MV Cebu Ferry 2 (ex-Asakaze, built and acquired from Japan)
MV Cebu Ferry 3 (ex-Esan, built and acquired from Japan)

Cokaliong Shipping Lines
MV Filipinas Dinagat (ex-Soya Maru, built and acquired from Japan)
MV Filipinas Iligan (ex-Ferry Fukue, built and acquired from Japan)
MV Filipinas Cebu (ex-Mikawa Maru, built and acquired from Japan)
MV Filipinas Ozamis (ex-Suruga, built and acquired from Japan)

Negros Navigation
MV St. Michael the Archangel (ex-Blue Diamond, ex-Queen Mary, acquired from Korea, built in Japan)

Ouano Wharf isn’t just a normal place where ships are being refitted. There are also Motorbancas and LCTs who are plying some short distance routes. MB Ave Maria 5, a Motorbanca, is doing a Ouano(Cebu)-Poro, Camotes-Ormoc route and LCT Sta. Filomena and LCT Sto. Niño de Bohol is doing a Ouano(Cebu)-Tubigon, Bohol route.

Basically, there are more ships that were refitted in Ouano during the past, probably. But no matter what happens to the shipping industry, may it rise or fall, one thing will always be in the minds of Ship Spotters – Ouano Wharf is a part and will always be a part of the history of the shipping industry in the vis-min region of the Philippines.

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