Cruise and Ferry Review - Summer/Spring 2020

1 3 7 Governments on islands like Vanuatu are looking for ways to make domestic ferry services safer for locals arrogance”. Ballantyne cites examples of unsuitable ships being foisted on the island operators – from those that are too deep to work island ports, to others that were designed for different waters, different vehicle sizes and very different human traffic. He points to the example of the gifted ro-pax ferry Lady Samoa 3, with a deck height too low for either the trucks she needed to carry or the population of the islands she was supposed to serve. He also notes that the economies of some of the islands makes operating some of these craft impossible for their governments. A new patrol boat gifted to Vanuatu, he instances, lies idle in Port Vila owing to a lack of fuel to take her to sea. The remoteness of these island communities makes it unlikely that there will be a competent local ship repair infrastructure which is capable of maintaining these vessels in a seaworthy condition. Regardless of their age, these vessels and their equipment are frequently too complicated for those charged with their operation and maintenance, not helped by manuals that are out of date or incomprehensible because they are written in a different language. Over the years there has been a long list of casualties, with aged and unsuitable ships being wrecked or falling victim to heavy weather, often leading to loss of life. Ballantyne suggests that the provision of more suitable ships and better port facilities must be accompanied by a repair infrastructure and a training regime that can keep the ships properly maintained and safe. He has also highlighted that there is a need to look at the role of the local ferries as emergency craft that can assist island populations in the aftermath of tropical revolving storms, which occur fairly infrequently – and to design this capability into the vessels. The situation is now complicated by the arrival of Chinese interests in the South Pacific, putting development money into port improvements in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, which both already have Chinese enclaves. Whatever the political or strategic implications, the Chinese resources applied to the improvement of island port infrastructure will hopefully make it possible to operate upgraded and safer ferries and coastal shipping in these remote communities, which clearly deserve something better. CFR “Over the years there has been a long list of casualties”