By Joyce McClure
Japan aid touted to open more job opportunities for Yap residents
Updated: Apr 14, 2021
FSM Fisheries & Maritime Institute in Yap receives $3.7M donation
Colonia, Yap -- Japan has donated $3.7 million to the Federated States of Micronesia to support the FSM Fisheries and Maritime Institute in Yap by providing a training vessel, training equipment and upgrades to the institute’s facilities.
The Japanese government, through Japan International Cooperation Agency, is also providing Class 4 training in 2022 for the cadets who will then be certified to perform the duties of Class 4 Master/Engineer.
The training will provide greater employment opportunities on foreign ships for the FMI graduates.
The Yap FMI campus is currently undergoing upgrades to dormitory rooms and classrooms as a part of the donation, as well.
The Fisheries & Maritime Institute offers courses in Navigation, Marine Engineering and Fishing Technology. These programs are offered in accordance with the standards and requirements of the International Convention on Standards and Training, Certification and Watch Keeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention). The FSM became a party to the STCW Convention on Oct. 14, 1998.
According to a press release from the Office of the FSM President, the FSM Department of Education and the College of Micronesia-FSM worked with the Embassy of Japan to complete and submit the grant application.
“On behalf of the State of Yap, I am deeply grateful and humbled by this significant and much-needed bestowal for the citizens of Yap,” Gov. Henry Falan said.
“We count our many blessings every day for the friendship and support of Japan throughout the years. This donation is one of the most significant that we have received and we give our thanks for their generosity and alliance," he added.
The governor’s intention is to replace the aging Chinese-made MV Hapilmohol 1 with this new, high-quality, ocean-going vessel, tailored to the needs of FMI’s training program, and to provide reliable, regular service to the state’s Outer Islands.
However, this is not the only vessel currently being designed for that purpose.
Since August 2019, the FSM Department of Transportation Communication and Infrastructure has been working with the embassy of China on the design and construction of a replacement for the H1.
Upon learning of the FSM’s agreement with China that dates back to the prior administration, Falan immediately wrote to FSM President David Panuelo the following month requesting the state's participation in the process.
Falan asked that his task force, which comprised members of his administration who have extensive expertise in maritime and marine transportation development and regulation, be included in the design of the 600-ton class cargo and passenger ship that would predominantly serve Yap.
He stated in the letter that Yap’s feedback “is very critical and essential to ensure appropriate functionality.”
There was no response from the president’s office or DOTC&I.
Falan subsequently sent two more follow-up letters to Panuelo, one in December 2019 and another in September 2020. He still received no response.
The signing of an agreement between the FSM and China was announced on Oct. 15, 2020. No one from the China team has traveled to Yap or called to discuss the state’s needs.
To date, the only communication received by Falan was a request for his approval to name the Chinese vessel after a deceased governor. Falan responded that naming something after a deceased person is against the island’s culture.
Another communication asked the governor what color he wanted the ship to be painted. He responded that he was not knowledgeable about the proper colors of oceangoing ships.
Built in a Chinese shipyard as a flat-bottomed landing craft and donated to the FSM national government to carry passengers and cargo, the H1 was handed over to Yap in 2007. It has a long history of frequent mechanical breakdowns often requiring parts to be sent from China resulting in being out of service for extended periods of time.
Other problems have included poor fuel efficiency and the lack of response to annual surveys required by the Chinese Classification Society for Yap to obtain necessary insurance.
Falan prefers that Yap receive a replacement ship for the H1 from Japan rather than China due to the well-known high-quality work of Japan’s engineers, designers and builders, the availability of parts and the dependability of service when the ship needs to be taken to dry dock in Japan for maintenance and inspection.
The design phase will come next, during which an expert team from Japan, through JICA, will be dispatched to the FSM to work with a local team on the architectural and engineering design of the vessel that includes the naval architectural work as required by marine vessels.
It is expected that the FSM team will comprise members from DOTC&I and COM-FSM (FMI). In addition, the governor’s representatives from the State of Yap will be involved in the design of the ship since it is the aim for the state to own and operate the vessel. The Japanese designers are welcoming of the involvement of the state’s maritime experts and those who will benefit from the vessel’s design utility.