The MV Lite Ferry 6

The MV Lite Ferry 6 is one of the ferries of Lite Shipping that can be used either as an overnight ferry or as a short-distance ferry (as Lite Ferry route assignments always changes every so often). She can be used for overnight routes since she have bunks aside from seats (which become “cruel” seats on overnight routes since those are made of fiberglass and have no head support and are built for individuals like terminal seats). In some routes, she is also used as a short-distance ferry. There is a route, the Samboan-Dapitan route when she is used as both. Going to Dapitan on a night voyage, she is used as an overnight ferry. On a day trip going back, she is used as a short-distance ferry because they don’t sell tickets for the accommodations that have bunks (but when I sailed with her they allowed me and a few passengers to sleep in the Tourist section; however, the aircon was not on). One cannot predict on a given day where she is because it is the policy of Lite Shipping, together with its legal-fiction sisters companies, the Sun Lines and the Danilo Lines to switch ship route assignments every few months or so. She can be found on the aforementioned Samboan-Dapitan route or she can also be found in the Cebu-Tagbilaran route (another route where she is used both as a short-distance ferry and an overnight ferry) or on the Cebu-Tagbilaran-Larena-Plaridel route, an overnight ferry route because of its distance and many ports of call.

The MV Lite Ferry 6 is a RORO (Roll-on, Roll-Off) ship. She has her bow ramp now closed but she still has a stern ramp for the handling of rolling cargoes. In a refitting a few years ago in Star Marine Shipyard, her bow was converted to a traditional bow (and the ramp closed) and lengthened. On handling cargo, she takes in both rolling and break-bulk cargo, a characteristic of the routes of Lite Shipping and of any other Cebu shipping company (this is not so in other routes of short-distance ferries in the eastern seaboard, in Bicol and MIMAROPA, etc. which only takes in vehicles). The break-bulk cargoes of Lite Ferry 6 are generally handled by forklifts, with one forklift on the wharf and other one on the car/cargo deck, passing the palletized cargo from one to another. In discharging cargo, the process is simply reversed. Amazingly, for easier handling of palletized or break-bulk cargo, the lip of the cargo ramp has to be deleted for the safety of the forklifts (they tend to slip on the slanted tip when rainy or muddy). This however, makes the loading of true rolling cargo more difficult if the wharf is not equipped with a slanting RORO ramp.

Notably, for a ship born 44 years ago in 1972, the Lite Ferry 6 is still a very reliable ship. She was built starting in 1971 by Nakamura Shipbuilding & Engine Works Company in the Matsue shipyard of this shipbuilder and she was completed in January of 1972. She was first named as the MV Hagi and she was given the permanent ID IMO 7225477. In Japan, she measured 48.7 meters in Length Over-all (LOA) with Length Between Perpendiculars (LBP or LPP) of 44.0 meters and she has a Breadth of 13.2 meters. The ship had a Gross Register Tonnage (GRT) of 684 tons and a Deadweight Tonnage (DWT) of 274 tons at birth. She was not a big ship by any means but she is bigger than the basic, short-distance ferry-RORO which only has a length of about 30 meters or so and sometimes even less and which just have one passenger deck.

In 1989, MV Hagi was sold and left Japan to become the MV Martin Perillo as a temporary name. In 1990, she became the MV Salve Juliana of the MBRS Shipping Lines of Romblon. She was the first steel ship of that newly-reformed shipping company and she was also the first RORO of the company. In the Philippines, the ship was fitted with an additional passenger deck to increase passenger capacity. Accommodations of an overnight ferry especially bunks were constructed into her. She was a two-class ferry with an open-air Economy class and an airconditioned Tourist class in a separate, enclosed section in the middle. The ship was provided with a small canteen and dining area at the stern, a characteristic of overnight ferries (short-distance ferries only have kiosks).

The MV Salve Juliana sailed the overnight Manila-Romblon province route which has been already abandoned by the Visayan liner shipping companies. However, as a true native ferry owned by Romblomanons, she also connected the three Romblon islands with calls in San Agustin town in Tablas island, the Romblon capital town in Romblon island and Cajidiocan town in Sibuyan island. She was a good success in this role and route and was prized by the islanders. With the ship, they now have a direct ship again to Manila bringing with it the produce of the province to the national capital. In the return trip, manufactured goods and supplies were brought to the out-of-the-way province. It also gave the Romblomanons a better and more comfortable vessel direct to the national capital region.

The end of the 1990’s and the start of the new millennium was not good for the MBRS Shipping Lines and this ship, however. More ships arrived for MBRS Shipping Lines and that means MV Salve Juliana had to make adjustments in routes like the other ships in the fleet. With the arrival at the same time of the tight competition from the new ferries using Batangas as port of origin, MBRS Lines had to create new and farther routes. So by this time the company was no longer an exclusive Romblon ferry company and they created experimental routes to Calamian islands of Palawan (Coron and Culion), Caticlan, Lipata town of Antique, Ticao island of Masbate, San Isidro town in Northern Samar and even San Carlos City in Negros Occidental. None of the new routes of MBRS Lines lasted though.

With too many competitors dividing a limited market, MBRS Lines realized they had too many ships in their fleet. So in 2002 they sold MV Salve Juliana to Lite Ferries of Cebu (and that was propitious as she is now the only survivor of the entire MBRS fleet). In this shipping company, she became the MV Sr. San Jose de Tagbilaran. Early in Lite Ferries she did routes to Tagbilaran (and Ormoc too) from Cebu. Later, she was withdrawn from the Ormoc route when better and bigger ships were acquired by the company. She was then reassigned to the other newly-created routes of Lite Ferries like what was mentioned before.

I do not know when the MARINA “magic meter” was applied to this ship. Right now she is a slightly shrunk version of what she was in Japan, if her current measurements are to be believed (for sure she is not like timber subjected to kiln drying). From 48.7 meters in length she is just now measured at 44.0 meters even though her bow has been lengthened. And from 13.2 meters breadth she is down to 11.0 meters (for sure the ship did not undergo compression). From 684 GT she is now down to just 618 GT although a passenger deck was added to her. She is declared to be 162 in Net Tonnage (NT) and it seems MARINA, which claims they are “IMO-compliant” is oblivious to an IMO rule which says that any ship’s NT can not be less than 1/3 of its GT.

This ship is equipped with a pair of tough Daihatsu marine engines that develop a total of 2,000 horsepower. Through two propellers, those engines gave her an original top speed of 14 knots. Nowadays, 12 knots is the maximum that can be coaxed from her engines. As a side note, this ship is among the ships with the most sister ships currently sailing Philippine waters. Among them is MV Lite Ferry 1 and MV Lite Ferry 2 of the same company (formerly known as MV Danilo 1 and MV Danilo 2 of Danilo Lines but this shipping company was bought was Lite Ferries), the MV Danica Joy (1) of Aleson Shipping and the MV Maria Helena of Montenegro Shipping Lines. As a show of her MBRS origin, this ship is still bears Manila registry and has the official number MLND000333.

Even though she is in the middle of her fifth decade now, this ship is still going strong. Looking at her sister ships which are even older than her and looking at the record of her owner Lite Ferries which is good in taking care of old ships I still see a long sailing career ahead of her, knock on wood, and hopefully Dick Gordon does not get his way and makes some legislative fiat against old ships, dumbly.

Long live our old ferries!

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