The “Starlite Ferry” of Batangas-based Starlite Ferries Inc. is notable because probably she is the first catamaran RORO ferry in the Philippines (contrary to the claim of Archipelago Philippine Ferries, operator of the new “FastCats” that they were the first). She arrived in the country in 1999 and she sails the Batangas-Calapan route.
Catamaran ROROs, as catamarans, are twin-hulled but unlike the “SuperCats” they were designed to carry rolling cargo aside from passengers. As such, they are also ROPAXes but with twin hulls.
“Starlite Ferry” was built in Japan and she was first known as the “Asagumo” of Nippon Car Ferry K.K. She was built by Nippon Kokan Kabushiki Kaisha (NKK) in the Asano shipyard in 1971 with the IMO Number 7235422. “Asagumo” had a Length Over-all (LOA) of 41.4 meters, a Length Between Perpendiculars (LBP) of 39.8 meters and Breadth of 15.9 meters with a Gross Register Tonnage (GRT) of 605 tons. Her Deadweight Tons (DWT) was 178 with a rolling cargo capacity of about 610 lane-meters. In Japan, she was rated at 50 cars capacity. She was powered by two Daihatsu marine diesel engines with a total of 1,300 horseower giving her a service speed of 12.5 knots.
In 1990, she passed on to Sea-Com Corporation with the same name “Asagumo” and in 1992 her new owner was Marine Express Company but the name remained unchanged. In 1999, she came to the Philippines to become a ship of the new shipping company, Starlite Ferries, where she plied the Batangas-Calapan route. In the Philippines, her new Gross Tonnage became 574 tons with a Net Tonnage of 390 tons. Her rated passenger capacity is 572 persons divided into two classes, the non-airconditioned Economy and an airconditioned Tourist equipped with good reclining seats commonly called here as jet seater.
“Starlite Ferry” has a narrow bridge on a deck above the passenger deck which looks more like a pilot house. She only has one passenger deck with the Tourist up front and below that is the car deck with space for 4 rows of trucks and buses. The ship is equipped with ramps at the bow and at the stern and both are still being used. One thing notable about her ramps is they are narrower than a conventional ROPAX of her size.
“Starlite Ferry” is still a reliable ship and it seems she still has many years of sailing ahead.