December 22, 2005

By Jessica Chapman
The Kaselehlie Press

After a lengthy delay, two 20-foot containers of United States surface mail bound for Pohnpei arrived on island via a Kyowa vessel last week.

According to the United States Postal Service in Honolulu, the mail was detained in California for approximately five months due to legal disputes involving the original shipper, Philippines, Micronesia & Orient Navigation Company.

"We'll be loaded with mail," said FSM Postmaster General Bethwel Henry when he talked with The Kaselehlie Press several days before the vessel's arrival. Postmaster Henry said the PM&O vessel was held by US Marshals in Honolulu. This prevented it from picking up the shipment of mail destined for the Marshall Islands and the FSM. The mail eventually reached Guam on a Matson vessel and then transferred to Kyowa.

According to its website, PM&O has been operating two vessels between the US West Coast and Micronesia, the Micronesian Nations and the Micronesian Navigator. The company's disputes with ports in the Marshall Islands and Hawaii have led to detention of its vessels in both locations in recent months. USPS reported the delayed mail comprised six shipping containers with more than 56,000 pounds of mail, all originally sent this past June and July. The Kyowa vessel arrived in Pohnpei on December 12, after making a stop in Chuuk said Postmaster Henry.

A Seair Transportations Agency representative said it was unclear whether PM&O would continue to provide service to the FSM. Seair Transportations Agency is the local agent for PM&O. The shipper discontinued service to Yap, Palau and Saipan in 2004. "USPS is currently researching the various shipping options available to us," commented a USPS spokesperson in Honolulu. "Whatever option we choose, we will make every effort to ensure that this situation does not recur."