2 Jul 2013

Tonga ferry tipped for foreign trips

1:33 pm on 2 July 2013

The operators of Tonga's inter island ferry, MV Otuanga'ofa, are considering cruises and freight delivery to supplement their income and make use of downtime.

The Japanese-supplied vessel, which came into service at the end of 2010, was the permanent replacement for the Princess Ashika, which sank in 2009 claiming 74 lives.

The manager of the Friendly Islands Shipping Agency, which operates the MV Otuanga'ofa, Captain Viliame Vi, says part of the arrangement with Japan is that the vessel must fund its own replacement.

He says this means cutting the downtime which is now about 50 percent.

Captain Vi says they have plans for harbour cruises and overseas trips.

"Carrying cargo overseas if we can, making trips, going out to the outer islands of the Pacific, to Fiji or Samoa and so on, because we have got produce here in Tonga to sell, so we might as well go off and utilise the vessel as much as we can."

The manager of the Friendly Islands Shipping Agency, Captain Viliame Vi