With the launching of MV Starlite Satum, its fourth brand-new roll-on, roll-off vessel on Monday (August 8, 2016) at the Batangas Port, Starlite Ferries marks yet another milestone in its continuing effort to modernize, inter-island travel in the country.
The newest addition to the Starlite fleet-the president of the company , Mr. Francis Cusi, say they have ordered an initial seven ships from Japan, with eight more to be custom-built later for a total of 15 brand-new Ro-Ro vessels-follows the customized design of the threee earlier ones.
M/V Starlite Saturn has a speed of 13.5 knots or nautical miles per hour. She has a rounded hull that rests deeper in the water for greater stability, bow thruster for vessel assistive manueverability and a bulbous bow that allows it to cut through waved more efficiently. The 2,700 gross ton ship can ferry 711 passengers and 20 drivers in bunk comfortably on its upper decks and up to 21 buses in its hold.
Unlike the second-hand ships now playing Philippines seas which were built for sailing in Japan’s calm inland seas, Starlite Saturn and other vessels in the Batangas-based shipping company’s fleet are designed to navigate the country’s open sea routes and seasonal rough waters.
The sad reality is that most of the 70-odd Ro-Ros now operating in the Philippines were bought from Japan where shipping laws require that after 20 years , they will have to decommissionined or sold abroad.
Not suprisingly, with its aging fleet of inter-island ships, the Philippines has racked up too many maritime accident over the years, thus earning the dubious distiction as the maritime accident capital of the world.
Starlite’s fleet of brand new Ro-Ro vessels has undergone stringlent inspection by Nipppon KaijiKyokai or Class NK, a member of International Association of Classification Society (IACS) that provides certification and classification services to 20 perscent of the world’s fleet.
Each stage of development of the vessels, from design to planning to production, has been meticulously crafted by some of the world’s best maritime designers and engineers, creating a world-class open-water, seagoing vessel.
Starlite Ferries is a 100 percent Filipino-owned company that started operations in 1995 with their first route Batangas-Calapan (Mindoro) to date, Starlite brought convenience to Filipino sea travelers by opening new routes such as Roxas-Caticlan, Roxas-Odiongan and guarantees more routes to open as they connect Luzon to Mindanao.
With the Philippines composed of thousands of islands, Starlite’s modern Ro-Ro vessels can significantly boost tourism in the country as they can facilitate trips to various tourism destinations. Tourists and residents alike can now afford to explore the different islands with ease, safety and comfort as Starlite vessels provide a scenic alternative to road and air travel.
What differentiates it from other domestic shipping companies is its emphasis on passengers convenience and safety.
In first-class, passengers travel in style inside air-conditioned cabins, complete. with luxirious reclining seats with armnest. The business class is also air-conditioned, while budget travelers can opt for the economy class where they also have comfortable seating and other amenities.
The ferries also have an elevator for handicapped passengers; two ramps for passengers; CCTV cameras in strategic locations for heightened security; room with beds for passengers with medical conditions, breastfeeding mothers and diaper changing station for infants; palypen for kids; and a helipad for emergency medical evacuation.
Enhanced safety features
Starlite vessels have enhanced stability. Their ships are waterlight from car deck to main deck, resulting in enhanced stability and increased safety.
The vessels are also complaint with standards set by the ClassNK. They are built with enough easement between the main deck accomodation area and the railings on both sides are big enough to accommodate all passengers and crew in times of emergency (such as tilting or listing to one side). They also come with wide stairs for speedy but safe evacuation during emergency situations.
Advanced safety systems
Starlite vessels are built by the Kegoya Dockyards in Kure City in Hiroshima, Japan. This is the same dockyard that built the legendary Japanese battleship, Yamato, which saw action in decisive naval battles in the Pacific during the Second World War.
Passengers are assured of a safe voyage in Starlite ferries as these are equipped with a Automatic Identification System (AIS) or automatic tracking system for identifying and locating nearby vessels.
They are also equipped with GPS navigator with video plotter that accurately plots the vessel’s location, Doppler log that echoes sea depth, Navtex receiver that forecasts weather condition and RADAR with ARPA (automatic radar plotting aid)
It is also equipped with BNWAS or Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System and EPIRBs ( Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon).
The ferries also receive regular navigational and meteorological weather warnings and forecast, while propulsion systems and bow thrusters allow for easiers maneuvering.
Emerging leader in Philippine maritime industry
Starlite Ferries is fast emerging as a leader in the Philippine shipping industry with its fleet of highly modern Japan-made ro-ro vessels and highly efficient, consuming 20 percent less cuel than old ones.
Fast, safe, cost efficient means of sea transport provided for the Filipino community; that is the Starlite way.