April 29, 2015

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

April 24, 2015 Pohnpei, FSM-This morning representatives from Japan and the FSM gathered at the Pohnpei Port Authority to celebrate the handing over of donations for Typhoon Maysak relief and also the turning over of the new FSM field trip ship, the MV Four Winds.

The relief supplies for Chuuk which included 35 water purifiers and 870 "Jerry Cans" were already on the ground in Chuuk. There are also 20 water purifiers bound for Yap. During the ceremony this morning, Japan's Ambassador Masaki Sakai delivered a letter of condolence for the FSM people from Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to President Mori. He also delivered a letter of condolence from Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fumio Kishida to Lorin Robert, FSM's Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Sakai said that he was in Chuuk when the devastating storm hit. He said it was the first time he had experienced a typhoon and the experience was horrifying. The devastation afterward was worse and he delivered his own message of condolences to the people of the FSM affected by Super Typhoon Maysak. After the proper officials signed the documents for the Typhoon relief materials, the ceremony turned to the handing over of the MV Four Winds. The brand new field trip ship will service the four FSM states and was donated by the Government of Japan at a cost of approximately $11.1 million USD. The $11.1 million price tag did not include expenses relating to the navigation of the ship from the dockyard to Pohnpei, expenses for which the Japanese government also paid.

The MV Four Winds is 58.89 meters in length, has a breadth of 10.80 meters and is 4.60 meters depth. It has 732 cubic meters in its cargo hold and features a 13.1 cubic meter freezing chamber. It has a maximum passenger capacity of 453 people including 28 crew members.

The construction on the vessel began after a pledging ceremony in the FSM two years ago and just arrived in Pohnpei. It was constructed by Fisheries Engineering Co., Ltd. and Kegoya Dock Co., Ltd. In Kegoya Doch Co., Kegoya, Kure- City, Hiroshima, Japan.

"As H.E. President Mori was clarifying at his congratulatory remarks, we, the Government of Japan really were delighted to join in the FSM dignitaries' and general population's strong passion in the welcoming of this long-awaited passenger sea-born infrastructure," Counselor Singo Higashimoto wrote in an email following the ceremony. "Firstly because this country has been long divided by sea, any kinds of sea transportation development assistance should be considered as one of the most hoped-for types of assistances. Secondly, because through another passenger ship besides "Caroline Voyager" which was also goodwill assistance from Japan more than 10 years ago, we are fully aware and assured that Government of Japan can assist the FSM's efforts to keep food, fuels and other daily necessities available to 3 states other than Pohnpei State in an orderly way and also to bolster the comings and goings of the population among Island States." During his remarks President Mori said that the Caroline Voyager will eventually be transferred to FSM Petroleum Corporation for use in collecting copra from the region.

After First Lady Emma N. Mori, and Mrs. Nobuko Sakai, the wife of the Ambassador to Japan cut the ribbon to the gangway of the vessel, Father Julio Angkel blessed the new vessel, walking its decks and sprinkling holy water.

FSM and Japanese officials participated in the traditional breaking of the Sake barrel and Lt. Governor Marcelo Peterson gave a toast after which the vessel was open for a well attended public tour of the vessel.