By Frank Whitman
American container shipping company American President Lines held a blessing ceremony for its container ship, APL Oceania, at the Jose D. Leon Guerrero Commercial Port in Piti on July 17.
About 40 people - APL employees, Port Authority of Guam. staff, members of the Guam Legislature, other port users, the lieutenant governor of Guam, APL customers and others – attended the blessing.
One of the functions of the blessing was to give the ship a new name. The name chosen for the ship – APL Oceania - has special significance, said Charlie Hermosa, general manager of APL. “We were looking at how do we honor not just Guam and CNMI but really honor the region,” he said. “We wanted to create a bridge into the blue continent. The APL Oceania really represents our commitment to the region.”
The vessel was blessed by Rev. Dan Trajano, pastor of the Assumption of Our Lady Catholic Church in Piti.
The importance of the blessing is not limited to the name. “It’s a blessing of the crew,” Hermosa said. “It’s the blessing of the ship and it’s a blessing of the route that it services.”
The ship was acquired by the company two years ago making it one of APL’s newer vessels, according to Hermosa. It sails with a crew of 19 to 21 individuals and is supported on land in Guam by 19 APL team members.
APL Oceania was built in 2010. It is about 580 feet long and 91 feet wide, and has a carrying capacity is 1,732 twenty-foot-equivalent units and her current draught is reported to be 28 feet.
Speakers during the ceremony saluted the achievements of port authority workers during Typhoon Mawar in May.
“It was only three days from the point when the typhoon ended (Port General Manager Rory Respicio) was able with his team to reopen the port of Guam in record time,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio. “On top of that, the Port Authority came to the aid of the private sector to make sure that they provided solutions to their infrastructure problems here to enable us to stabilize fuel distribution here on Guam which, as you know, helped get us onto a pace to recovery.”
APL is a subsidiary of French shipping company CMA CGM and operates nine U.S.-flagged vessels.