By: L.N. Reklai
February 20, 2017 (Koror, Palau) Angaur State boat Regina IV, faces problems after just recently returning from dry dock in Cebu, Philippines on January 19, 2017. The boat, after 20 years in service, was sent there for complete overhaul when funding of $500,000 was made available during the 9th OEK.
On February 1, 2017, after a survey and inspection of M/V Regina IV, Division of Marine Transportation issued a determination to Governor Ken Uyehara that the “vessel fit for voyage with respect to the safety of the vessel” but also noted deficiencies that need to be addressed immediately.
According to the noted deficiencies, the new ramp control system fails to meet proper operating parameters. Marine paint grade is failing to prevent aggressive corrosion, damage to life raft due to failure to properly support the life raft, port engine oil pressure and gear pressure box gauge not functioning, excessive oil leakage on starboard engines and filthy bilge requiring entire bilge engine room to be cleaned before inspection and others are cited by the Division of Marine Transportation.
In July of 2015, former Governor Marvin Ngirutang had requested an independent marine inspector Mr. Benito Thomas to assess Regina IV and provide report. In the report, Mr. Thomas gave detailed report of the status of the boat and list of all the required improvements. This list included 2 new engines. The list became the specifications for a bid that Angaur State issued in April of 2016.
According to former Governor Ngirutang, a Transportation Committee was created to review bids and make recommendations to Governor. There were 2 bidders and one was Colorado Shipyard. Both of the bidders recommended overhauling the old caterpillar engines, stating that replacing them with new ones will require reconfiguration of the vessel to accommodate new engines and costs up to $1 million dollars.
Both companies in their bids assured additional 20 years of life with newly overhauled engines and gave one year warranty on them. “The decision was made by the Transportation Committee which was unanimous and was also recommended by then Treasurer Kenneth Uyehara and I supported their decision” stated former governor Ngirutang.
“We were advised that it would be crucial to hire someone like Steven Swords to be there in Cebu physically to ensure quality control, otherwise, we would be shortchanged,” added Ngirutang.
Angaur State hired Mr. Swords to oversee the project and according to Ngirutang, Swords was clashing with contractors on quality.
“Toward the end of the work, I urged the Committee to keep the boat in Cebu and send ROP inspectors to test it so that if there were problems they can fix them in Cebu. The Committee thought differently and now we have this situation,” stated Ngirutang.
“If there was any defrauding, it would be from Colorado Shipyard for not meeting its requirements and promises” he added.
The boat arrived in Palau on January 19 through what Governor Ken Uyehara reported “very rough seas”. Upon arrival, it was inspected and found to have rudder tie rod broken. Initially thought to be caused by rough seas but according to Marine Transportation report is due to rudder control system operating under high hydraulic pressure.
Governor Kenneth Uyehara, however, is optimistic that the boat problems are minor and will be repaired soon. In his letter to President Remengesau, he assured him that the boat will resume serving the people Angaur soon and expressed appreciation for Remengesau’s support of Angaur’s “Compact Road”. [/restrict]