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  • By Bruce Lloyd

Another twist to Yap-bound 'cruise' ship story

Is the 'Forever Lucky' an unregistered vessel or a registered, Panama-flagged cargo ship?

It was pitched as a way to solve the problems of putting on a major international sporting event--the 2018 Yap MicroGames--on an island very short of conventional hotel and catering operations. Bring in a cruise ship to provide housing, support staff and catering services, which would tie up at port in Colonia.

The FSM national government bought in to the plan. The games organizing committee told the Guam Post that, "with the support of the Federated States of Micronesia national government, Yap [State] had signed a contract with Fahrenheit for the company to provide cruise ship accommodations, and food catering for Games participants."

That contract was with Fahrenheit Company, Ltd., a Subic, Philippines-based operation, the purported owner of the cruise ship, "[that] has diversified its business to include general constructions, land development, sub-contracting, trans-shipment of agricultural and marine products, quarrying and mining operator (sic)."

Last week the plan began to go sour, as ROP authorities impounded the ship in Bataan and removed 139 workers aboard who had been contracted to cook lechon and perform other services in support of the games. Authorities described the workers as ‘victims of human trafficking’ and demanded various required documents and awaited the results of the investigation. There were also reports questioning the ship's registration and various paperwork involving crew members.

Further, according to an organizing committee news release, “[I]t was shared that one of the issues faced now in the Philippines with the ship owners was no longer the transport of the 139 workers on the ship—which was not permitted by Philippine authorities—but the seaworthiness of the vessel to transport that many persons aboard. Fahrenheit Company Limited has informed Yap State that it is exploring options to fly in the workers in a charter flight to Yap directly from the Philippines, leaving only the crew to man Forever Lucky to Yap after the successful issuance of a special permit. The workers will then rendezvous with the ship in Yap.”

The ship has a deadline of July 11 to reach Yap, but so far only the Fahrenheit Company and official statements from Yap have suggested that it will be sailing according to that timetable.

And there's no official word from the Philippines.

Perhaps it's because questions about the ship's registry and its identity are being raised. According to the website

"The "Forever Lucky" was detained by the Philippine Coast Guard and National Bureau of Investigation at the Port of Orion in Bataan on July 2, 2018. Local authorities stopped the vessel from sailing off to Micronesia after it was discovered that 139 Filipinos on board were illegally recruited for work. In a joint anti-human smuggling operation, the vessel's crew carried fake documents, did not have a manifest for the passengers on board and the vessel, owned by Fahrenheit Co. Ltd., did not have a special permit to navigate from the Maritime Industry Authority. The 41 crew members were also being held at the port of Orion. (3 days ago, by Timsen )"

But the site has no identifying information for a cruise ship of this name, only showing a radically different vessel of the same name, tied up in a Vietnam port in 2013:

So will the Forever Lucky--freighter or cruise ship--arrive in Yap, or even get out of port in the ROP? That remains to be seen.


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