The Super Shuttle RORO 12 and Its New Route

Last April 30, the RORO Cargo ship Super Shuttle RORO12 of the Asian Marine Transport Corporation or AMTC participated in a very notable ceremony, the inauguration of the new Davao-General Santos City-Bitung route. I do not know when was the last time two Heads of State were present in the Philippines for a shipping inauguration. If there was one, it was eons ago. But right after the ASEAN Summit, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia came to Davao City for the inauguration. President Jokowi of Indonesia was even accompanied by her wife, the First Lady of Indonesia Iriana Widodo. I thought wow! that was the importance given on the opening of the route connecting the southern Philippines with eastern Indonesia. And the host of AMTC in Davao City, the Kudos Port was that lucky to have the presence of two Presidents. Wow, how lucky was Mr. Johnny Ng, the owner of the port. The inauguration might be “The Event” of his successful business career.

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And the ship Super Shuttle RORO 12 was also very lucky. Imagine all the photos and videos of her not only in media but also the social media. That goes true too to Kudos Port and its owner. Both the ship, the port are now famous and not only in Davao City. And then just past the narrows of Pakiputan Strait, the Super Shuttle RORO 12 met the China PLAN flotilla which is in a world tour and which picked Davao City as the first port of call. I do not know if that is auspicious but what a timing! It seemed a lot of attention was on Davao City that day and Super Shuttle RORO 12 was part of all that.

Viewing, talking of Super Shuttle RORO 12, I always have charged emotions. Many do not know but she is not a new ship in our waters for in 1994 she came to William Lines as the ROCON I. When she came she became the biggest cargo ship in the whole country, bar none. She was then the pride of William Lines and justifiably so. During the time she came, William Lines was in a battle to keep pace with Aboitiz Shipping and Sulpicio Lines which were both ahead of her in container ships before ROCON I arrived.

But when she arrived I had the thought, “Can ROCON I be fit for local routes or is she meant to do Far Eastern routes?” The reason behind that thought is ROCON I was much larger than the container ships in the country which is just about 90 meters or 100 meters in length and ROCON I was 160 meters in length. Even compared to the Ramon Aboitiz and Vidal Aboitiz of Aboitiz Shipping which were built in Ukraine, she was significantly bigger. And I thought “Is ROCON I the William Lines slam dunk a la Filipina Princess and Princess of the Orient of Sulpicio Lines?” When those two grand liners of Sulpicio Lines came in 1988 and 1993m they were much larger than the liners of the competition. And now ROCON I was just like those two.

I noticed the name “ROCON” was a play on the characteristics of the ship which is “RORO” and loads container vans. Before she came most the container ships in the country load and unload “LOLO”, an acronym for “Lift On, Lift Off”. That means in loading and unloading booms are used to lift the container vans. Meanwhile, ROCON I is a true RORO Cargo ship true. There are no cargo booms and container vans are hauled into or hauled off the ship. This means the container vans are aboard trailers that are pulled by prime movers. This system is actually faster in loading and unloading but trailers are an additional capital expense and there can’t be maximization like in LOLO ships where container vans are stacked with practically no wasted space.

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In Europe, the origin of ROCON I, RORO Cargo ships carry all types of vehicles crossing the seas from sedans to trucks to trailers. Since the load are vehicles then ramps are needed as access to the different car levels. Aside from ramps as access to the port, the RORO Cargo ships have car ramps connecting the various level and up to the sun deck. Sometimes lifts or elevators are also used. So even though ROCON I is a big ships in TEU her capacity is only 500. She was certainly not the first container ship with ramps here as the very first container ship of William Lines, the Wilcon 1 has a ramp and operates ROLO which means she has cargo booms at the front and a car ramp at the stern for combined RORO and LOLO loading and unloading. The Wilcon 4 of William Lines also has a RORO ramp and so do the Sinulog of Escano Lines but what really sets apart ROCON 1 is she has no booms and that is actually a leap of faith for William Lines as not much cars and trucks are loaded locally and for a ship to just carry 500 TEUs on 6,500 horsepower, the ratio does not seem to be too good.

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The ROCON I was built as the Mercandian Gigant for Nolis in 1984 by Frederikshavn Vft in Fredirikshavn, Denmark. Her name was already a giveaway to her size and she measured 160.5 meters by 22.3 meters with a gross register tonnage (GRT) of 15,375 tons. In those days those measurent were already very big (nowadays, container ships of over 200 meters are already common). Mercandian Gigant has a design speed of 16 knots from 6,500 horsepower from a single MaK engine. The ship was already equipped with the modern bulbous bow. Of course, she has only a single funnel.

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The lift. The mezzanine is at the background.

Inside the ship has three RORO decks for vehicles plus a mezzanine for cars aside from the top or sun deck which is also used for loading vehicles. Ramps connect the different levels and lifts are also employed. Like most RORO Cargo ships there is a tower at the front which accommodates the crew and the drivers of the vehicles and the bridge at the top. There are cabins for the drivers with its own toilet and bath and there are drawing rooms and a common galley which in layman’s word is the kitchen and restaurant of the ship (the term “galley” comes from the earlier centuries). Drawing rooms are the lounges of the ship and the officers have a separate drawing room. 

In 1995, ROCON I came to the Philippines and William Lines as mentioned before. She really seemed too big then for the route to Cebu. The ship did not sail long for William Lines because the “Great Merger” that produced the William, Gothong & Aboitiz or WG&A shipping company came on January 1, 1996 and she became the SuperRORO 200 in the new company. The next year the ship was sold abroad. And that was one thing I cannot understand about WG&A. They were able to accumulate a few good container ships that do not look like general-purpose cargo ships like the bulk of the Wilcons, Sulcons, Lorcons and Aboitiz Concarriers but instead of maintaining the routes to Hongkong and other ports in the Far East what WG&A did instead was to withdraw from foreign routes and surrender to the foreigners. What happened next was only foreign ships were carrying our container vans with the probable exception of Eastern Shipping Lines. While withdrawing from foreign routes what WG&A did was also to bully the smaller shipping companies in the country and in some cases that resulted in the collapse of the weaker shipping companies.

Of the ships we sold aboard it was ROCON I which first came back and that was completely unexpected as ships sold abroad never come back. The only other ship to come back here was the former SuperFerry 16 which became the St. Therese of Child Jesus of 2GO. So when the former Amirouche came here in 2015 to become the Super Shuttle RORO 12 I was shocked when the IMO Number (which is IMO 8222733) told me she was the former ROCON I. I was able to visit her in AMTC Pier 8 days after she arrived. I asked Yangyang Rodriguez, a high officer of AMTC if she was a former ship here and it seems he played coy with me. But of course IMO Numbers don’t lie and that is the beauty of it. Very easy in tracing a ship but MARINA, the local maritime administrator doesn’t use that because they insist on their own ship identification number which is useless in tracing ships.

Amirouche, the last name of the ship was refitted and she became the Super Shuttle RORO 12, the last big RORO Cargo ship so far of AMTC. She did not have a permanent route like the other RORO Cargo ships of the company. Sometimes she would come to Davao.

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Docked off Davao before inauguration

The news came of the planned inauguration of the Davao-General Santos City-Bitung (Indonesia) route. Two weeks before the planned inauguration Super Shuttle RORO 12 was already waiting in the southern Davao anchorage in Pakiputan Strait. She was obviously newly painted. I imagine her interiors were spruced up too. Who can tell if the two Presidents will board the ship together with their First Ladies and other dignitaries? And two days before the inauguration she was already docked in Kudos Port. Maybe top officers of AMTC was already around to make sure all goes well. I am also sure the Presidential Security Group (PSG) checked every nook and cranny of the ship and practically sealed it.

I was surprised by the choice of the Super Shuttle Ferry 12 for the route as she is a big RORO Cargo ship and the route to Bitung is just starting. This route was already in the news for the last four years or so and nothing came out of it. Once I was told the route is already off because, “Bawal ang bigas, bawal ang asukal, bawal ang (cooking oil). E, ano na lang ang ikakarga namin?” There is really a very strong protectionist lobby because if we will follow the zero tariff ASEAN scheme we will be flooded by goods from our neighbors because they are more efficient, their labor and fuel costs are less and so their consumer goods are cheaper. Many Filipinos and even the educated ones don’t know that the prices of our basic goods is well over the world market price. That is why so many Filipinos are poor and they can’t even buy the basic necessities.

Now I wonder what changed that the route is on again. As usual the media is next to clueless. All they can say is the route is a boon to something (basta me maisulat lang). We have talked before to the Purser of Pelita Harapan, a big wooden motor boat that once had a Manado-Davao route. He said we have salable goods to Indonesia and that is what they carry like plywood, construction supplies, flour and Coca-Cola which are all produced in Davao. He said the equivalent goods that come from the industrial area near Jakarta is more expensive because of the distance. There are many Indonesia products that can be traded in Davao but because of quantitative restrictions (QRs) and denial of permits it will treated as “smuggling” here. That is the sad system and wrong understanding of “free trade” here. What they say as “free trade” is actually restricted trade.

The media and bureaucrats say that instead of container vans from Davao going the roundabout way to Indonesia via Manila and Jakarta (Tanjung Priok), the direct route will be cheaper. I don’t know who is fooling whom with that. There is practically no trade between southern Philippines and eastern Indonesia because “free trade” is regarded as “smuggling” and that was the previous viewpoint of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. He didn’t want cheap rice, oil and sugar from Indonesia (that is why I am asking now what changed). If there was really significant trade that would have been visible in general-purpose ships. But actually it is hard to track them because MARINA cannot implement also the IMO requirement for AIS (Automatic Identification System) which is used track ships.

Actually what might happen is goods meant for eastern Indonesia will use General Santos City and Davao as intermediate ports (both these ports host foreign container ships regularly). So instead of the container vans offloaded in Tanjung Priok which is farther it will be offloaded in the two Philippine ports and supposedly there should be savings in cargo rates (but that is assuming there is enough volume).

I guess AMTC fielded only a big and good ship for the inauguration for pomp and effect. I do not think there is enough volume to sustain the Super Shuttle RORO 12. If needed be, AMTC has the smaller Super Shuttle RORO 14 and Super Shuttle RORO 6 (if it is running) for that.

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Super Shuttle RORO 12 on the way to Bitung

It is funny some are fooled by media that Super Shuttle Ferry 12 will accommodate passengers and some government officials echo that and even cited tourism. But the RORO Cargo ships of AMTC are not allowed to carry passengers. Did something change too in this regard? Bitung is the bigger port in that part of Sulawesi and the bigger city is Manado but its port is small. There was once a Davao-Manado plane but it was discontinued for lack of passengers. Even the Pelita Harapan is gone now and it was a Davao-Manado ship mainly used for cargo (and to repatriate Filipino prisoners in Indonesia). Pelita Harapan can carry cargo but not fuel for sale. Madidiskubre kasi na mura ang fuel sa Indonesia.

I wish Super Shuttle RORO 12 well. But let us just see what will happen to this new trade route.

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The Super Shuttle RORO 12

The Super Shuttle RORO 12 of the Asian Marine Transport Corporation (AMTC) is one of the biggest Cargo RORO ships in the country. It is notable not for its size alone but also for the fact that she is a balikbayan which means she was once a Philippine ship, was sold abroad and came for the second time. The only other ship here that has the same reputation is the St. Therese of Infant Jesus of 2GO which was the former SuperFerry 16 of Aboitiz Transport System.

Super Shuttle RORO 12 first came to the country in 1995 when she was then known as the ROCON I of William Lines Inc. She was the biggest cargo or container ship in the country then if flag of convenience ships (FOCs) are excluded. In gross tonnage, she was even bigger than the Princess of the Orient of Sulpicio Lines Inc., the biggest liner then in the country although the latter is longer.

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When William Lines Inc. acquired the ROCON I I think it was their answer to the purchase of the Ukraine-built and brand-new Ramon Aboitiz and Vidal Aboitiz of Aboitiz Jebsens which were also big Cargo RORO ships then by local standards. William Lines has been in the receiving end in the liner one-upmanship with Sulpicio Lines in the recent years then and maybe they were not willing to be on the receiving end of another shipping company and so getting the biggest Cargo RORO ship is maybe their way to restore pride somehow. Well, when the ROCON I arrived in Cebu she really turned heads especially since she is markedly tall.

ROCON I was built as the Mercandian Gigant for Per Henriksen. She has the ID IMO 82227333 and the MMSI Code 341028000. She was built by Danyard A/S in Frederikshavn, Denmark in 1984. Of steel hull she has two masts, one deck and two ramps at the stern. She has a total of three vehicle decks plus a sun deck which is also a car deck. The lowermost car deck is accessed by lowering a movable ramp. The main vehicle deck has a mezzanine at the front.

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This ship measures 160.5 meters by 20.7 meters by 12.3 meters in L x B x D. Her gross tonnage is 14,410 and the net tonnage is 6,014. The deadweight tonnage of the ship is 9,200 tons. The ship is powered by a single MaK engine of 6,500 horsepower. With the help of a bulbous stem, the ship was capable of 16 knots when new. At over 2,500 lane-meters, she is a power-efficient ship. I mean the cargo carrying capacity versus horsepower is high.

After arriving in 1995, this ship did not serve long with William Lines because on the first day of the next year the “Great Merger” in Philippine shipping materialized which produced the shipping company William, Gothong & Aboitiz (WG&A). In the combined fleet of WG&A she was known as the Super RORO 200. However, with so many container ships in the company and its stress on carrying express container vans in its ROPAX liners, the Super RORO 200 was soon put up for sale along with the SuperRORO 100 and SuperRORO 300. In 1997, she was bought and she became the Caribe Merchant of Crowley Maritime and she did Caribbean routes.

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She subsequently became known as the Amirouche and flagged in St. Kitts and Nevis. In 2014, Asian Marine Transport Corp. (AMTC) purchased her from Nolis and she was conducted to the Philippines by a local crew. On arrival her first refittings were done in AMTC’s wharf in Pier 8 in Mandaue, Cebu before she was brought to Subic for the final refitting and sea test. Funny that not many still recognized here after 20 years. Doubly funny, the AMTC exec I asked if she was a local ship before seemed to have played poker with me.

Locally she carries both vehicles and container vans, both wheeled and not. Container vans are the primary cargo of the ship and the not-so-many cars she carries are mainly brand-new vehicles destined for car dealerships in the South. Locally, she does not carry truck and sedans with its drivers like in Europe. She is also not authorized to carry passengers, a restriction on local Cargo ROROs which are treated as cargo ships by MARINA.

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The ship has a medium-sized functional bridge with an attached navigators’ room. Behind the bridge and below are the cabins for the officers and the crew along with the galley (the ship’s kitchen), mess (the ship’s restaurant) and the officers’ lounge. These are all housed in the ship’s tower.

Currently the ship serves the company’s Manila-Cebu-Zamboanga-Davao-General Santos City route which is AMTC’s longest route. The schedule of departures and arrivals are most of the time approximates as the company adjusts for the volume of cargo so technically she is not a cargo liner in the strictest sense of the term. Locally, the long-distance Cargo RORO ships of the company are governed to 12 knots and speeds up only if needed.

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I have visited this ship twice and it looks like she is still in good shape. By local standards her age is not that old and MaK engines are a trusty make. Since many of the Cargo ROROs of AMTC are sourced from Europe the majority of their Cargo ROROs are actually engined with MaKs. Engineers who have worked abroad have experience with this engine make and they are many. Notably, among the big Cargo ROROs of AMTC, Super Shuttle RORO 12 has the least power but she is not the slowest.

I hope this Cargo RORO serves AMTC well. This time around maybe she deserves a longer stay in the country and I hope she will be appreciated more.

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Photos by Aris Refugio and Mike Baylon

The Cargo RORO Specialist of the Philippines

Cargo RORO (or RORO Cargo) ships are vessels that carry rolling cargo (light and heavy vehicles or container vans on chassis) and tracked vehicles like heavy equipment. For that, these ships have ramps and several levels of car decks connected by ramps on the inside or by lifts. They basically differ from container ships on two counts. One, the Cargo RORO ships wheel in their load while container ships handle their load LOLO (Load On, Load Off). In layman’s term that means lifting the container vans by the use of booms or by gantry cranes (sometimes a reach stacker or cranes are also used). Second, a significant number of the load of Cargo RORO ships are vehicles. Since those vehicles have drivers in many cases, Cargo RORO ships have a small passenger accommodations (mainly small cabins) for the owners or the truckers. Some amenities are provided for them too.

Cargo RORO ships differ from Pure Car Carriers (PCCs) and vehicle carriers in that the latter two basically carry new vehicles for delivery to overseas divisions of car companies and to car dealers. So in general the two latter-named are accompanied by just a few drivers or maybe by none at all.

In the world, it is in Europe where there is a highest concentration of Cargo RORO ships. It spans from Northern Europe to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea which connects Europe to North Africa. Even the Black Sea has Cargo RORO ships. These Cargo RORO ships of Europe serve as the “bridges of the sea” for the European truckers and the tourists who brought along their vehicles.

Japan also has Cargo RORO ships but not to the extent of the proliferation in Europe. Other areas of the world also have that kind of ship but also not to the extent of concentration of Europe.

Cargo RORO or RORO Cargo ships have not been used before in any significant number in the Philippines. Those that came before were converted to RORO-passenger (ROPAX) ships like what Carlos A. Gothong Lines did with the MV Our Lady of Sacred Heart and MV Our Lady of Medjugorje. Before the two came, there was the MV Wilcon 1 and MV Wilcon 4 of William Lines and the MV Sinulog of Escano Lines but those were ROLO Cargo or Cargo LOLO ships which means they have ramps for rolling cargo and cargo booms for the container vans. The three had limited passenger accommodations and are all gone now. In recent years there were also a few ROLO Cargo ships that were acquired by other shipping companies but they do not carry passengers.

The first local shipping company that invested in a series of Cargo RORO ships was Sulpicio Lines. Between 1997 and 2002 that company acquired the MV Sulpicio Express Uno, the MV Sulpicio Express Dos and the MV Sulpicio Express Tres. However, those three Cargo RORO ships are now all gone to the breakers and only recently. Maybe Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC), the current name now of Sulpicio Lines realized that the engines of the three were too big for its container capacity.

In recent years, there was a shipping company which seems to have decided they will make their mark in using Cargo RORO ships. This is the Asian Marine Transport Corporation (AMTC) of Cebu. Their first three ships in their Super Shuttle RORO series were either Cargo RORO ships or vehicle carriers. However, they converted all three as RORO-Passenger (ROPAX) ships here but their passenger capacities were not as big as MV Our Lady of Sacred Heart and MV Our Lady of Medjugorje. Maybe that decision was affected by the fact that liner passengers are no longer as numerous compared to the 1990’s and that they were just beginning in liner shipping (but in short-distance RORO shipping they have already been awhile already).

Starting with the next ship in the series, the MV Super Shuttle RORO 5, Asian Marine Transport no longer converted the ship to carry passengers. And this became the pattern from MV Super Shuttle RORO 6 (which was a barge carrier and not a Cargo RORO ship) to MV Super Shuttle RORO 12 (which were all Cargo RORO ships). Recently, an MV Super Shuttle RORO 14 arrived for them which has not yet been refitted. There is no Super Shuttle RORO 4 or 13 in the series because those numbers supposedly bring bad luck. Meanwhile, MV Super Shuttle RORO 6 is not sailing because of an engine room fire while in the shipyard and it is not sailing because of a dispute in the settlement between the company and the shipyard.

All the Cargo RORO ships of Asian Marine Transport Corp. (AMTC) from “5” to “14” were just acquired starting in 2012. So that means the push of AMTC in container shipping was relatively recent (but the first three in the series can also carry container vans but they were not yet big then in container shipping). Their container vans are brand-new and most were chartered from Waterfront Leasing, a company specializing in the rental of container vans.

These Cargo RORO ships of Asian Marine Transport Corp. were all built in Europe except for MV Super Shuttle RORO 7 and the MV Super Shuttle RORO 11 which were built in Japan. Although the ships are no longer young, all are still sailing reliably except for the fire-hit MV Super Shuttle RORO 6. Generally, the load of the ships are container vans, both aboard chassis and not. Cars and SUVs (sports utility vehicles) are also loaded and the bulk of these are brand-new and which are destined for car dealers in Visayas and Mindanao.

The ports of origin of the Cargo RORO ships of Asian Marine Transport Corp. are Manila and Batangas. Most of their Cargo RORO ships would then call in Cebu. They also have a route that passes through Iloilo and Bacolod. Their ports of call in Mindanao are Davao, General Santos City, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro and Nasipit.

The Cargo RORO ships of Asian Marine Transport Corp. are not cargo liners in the strict sense of the word as they can be flexible in departures according to the load and their route assignment is not really fixed and it is sometimes intervened by radio from the main office. That also means their arrivals in a particular port are also not fixed.

These are the particulars of the Cargo RORO ships of Asian Marine Transport Corporation:

Super Shuttle RORO 5 (arrived 2012)

Original name is Tajura. IMO 7822500.

Built by Neue Schlichting Werft in Travemunde, Germany in 1980.

Dimensions are 114.0 meters by 17.5 meters by 11.7 meters.

Dimensional weights are 6,105 gross tons and 2,900 deadweight tons.

Engines and Speed: 2 X 2,200hp MaK diesels. 16 knots top speed, originally.

Super Shuttle RORO 6 (arrived 2012)

Original name is Este Submerger II of J. Hauschildt. IMO 8324701.

Built by Rickmers in Bremerhaven, Germany in 1984.

Dimensions are 106.0 meters by 19.6 meters by 10.9 meters.

Dimensional weights are 6,786 gross tons and 4,490 deadweight tons.

Engines and Speed: 2 x 1,820hp Krupp-MaK diesels. 13 knots top speed.

Super Shuttle RORO 7 (arrived 2012)

Original name is Dia Ace. IMO 9117727.

Built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Shimoneseki, Japan in 1994.

Dimensions are 146.0 meters by 23.4 meters by 13.2 meters.

Dimensional weights are 13,540 gross tons and 4,339 deadweight tons.

Engine and Speed: 1 x 6,900hp NKK-Pielstick diesel. 17 knots top speed.

Super Shuttle RORO 8 (arrived 2012)

Original name is Dana Cimbria. IMO 8413992.

Built by Frederikshavns Vft in Frederikshavns, Denmark in 1986.

Dimensions are 145.0 meters by 21.6 meters by 12.1 meters.

Dimensional weights are 12,189 gross tons and 6,897 deadweight tons.

Engine and Speed: 1 x 7,800hp MaK diesel. 17.5 knots top speed, originally.

Super Shuttle RORO 9 (arrived 2013)

Original name is Bore Queen of Bore Line. IMO 7902647.

Built by Rauma-Repola in Rauma, Finland in 1980.

Dimensions are 170.9 meters by 23.0 meters by 17.5 meters.

Dimensional weights are 17,884 gross tons and 11,400 deadweight tons.

Engines and Speed: 2 MaK diesels. Total: 16,000hp. 19 knots top speed.

Super Shuttle RORO 10 (arrived 2014)

Original name is Finnmerchant. IMO 8020684.

Built by Rauma-Repole in Rauma, Finland in 1982.

Dimensions are 157.6 meters by 25.3 meters by 17.3 meters.

Dimensional weights are 20,865 gross tons and 13,866 deadweight tons.

Engines and Speed: 2 x 7,500hp Wartsila diesels. 19 knots top speed.

Super Shuttle RORO 11 (arrived 2014)

Original name is Dana Caribia. IMO 7725166.

Built by Nippon Kokan KK in Shimizu, Japan in 1979.

Dimensions are 161.4 meters by 24.2 meters by 14.3 meters.

Dimensional weights are 14,805 gross tons and 10,470 deadweight tons.

Engines and Speed: 2 x 3,950hp Burmeister & Wain (B&W) diesels. 15 knots.

Super Shuttle RORO 12 (arrived 2015)

Original name is Mercandian Gigant of Per Henriksen. IMO 8222733.

Built by Danyard A/S in Frederikshavn, Denmark in 1984.

Dimensions are 160.5 meters by 20.7 meters by 12.3 meters.

Dimensional weights are 14,410 gross tons and 9,200 deadweight tons.

Engine and Speed: 1 x 6,500 Mak diesel. 16 knots top speed, originally.

This ship was formerly the ROCON I of William Lines which came in 1995. In the great merger that produced the WG&A Philippines she was renamed to SuperRORO 200. She was sold abroad in 1997.

Super Shuttle RORO 14 (arrived 2016)

Original name is Mercury Ace. IMO 8509466.

Built by Usuki Tekkosho in Usuki, Japan in 1985.

Dimensions are 96.9 meters x 20.2 meters.

Dimensional weights are 6,974 gross tons and 3,199 deadweight tons.

Engine and Speed: 1 marine diesel. 13.5 top speed, originally.

A total of 9 Cargo RORO ships. The purchases of those Cargo RORO ships were mainly backed by the government-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

In the main, each carry about 300 TEUs in a voyage plus vehicles in the top deck (and some on the bottom deck at the engine level). Asian Marine Transport System now has a spic and span terminal in Batangas under the name of Super Shuttle RORO, a brand they are now developing. In Cebu, however, they are looking for a new hub as they are leaving their old hub and port in Pier 8 in Mandaue, Cebu.

I just hope Asian Marine Transport System don’t find the engine size/fuel consumption to container capacity of the Cargo ROROs difficult to manage. With the way they are running the ships where there are long in-port hours, the advantage of Cargo RORO ships which is fast loading and unloading is in the main neutralized. They sometimes sail on one engine to save on fuel but one advantage of their fleet is it has the speed to turn or when needed. Container ships in the Philippines might have small engines but they don’t have the speed really (except for a few). On one hand though their top decks (and bottom decks) are really good for carrying vehicles and that is their advantage over the container ships.

This Cargo RORO experiment of Asian Marine Transport System is worth watching and studying.