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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 12, 1999 - Saipan Tribune)---It was a simple ceremony attended by the CNMI and U.S. Navy officials. After several years of waiting, the US$ 43 million Saipan Harbor Improvement Project was finally inaugurated.

Carlos H. Salas, executive director of the Commonwealth Ports Authority recalled how a group of businessmen began the vision of having a modern port facility, about 20 years ago.

Now, the Port of Saipan is a world class facility with 2,600 linear feet of berthing space, a 22-acre container yards, a deeper channel, a wider turning basin and efficient fuel, water and sewer systems.

"With no more time wasted waiting at anchorage, vessels are cruising into the Port of Saipan in record numbers, providing their vital services in cargo deliveries and bringing in passengers with speed and efficiency," said Salas.

Board chairman Roman S. Palacios said the project would not have been made possible without the contribution of the private sector, namely the shippers, agents, retailers, wholesalers, exporters and importers.

"Your hard work and dedication not only created demand for this modern facility, but also the economic fuel to get the job done," he said. Most of all, Governor Pedro P. Tenorio, in his first term as chief executive, has already made it his mission to convince everyone on the island that Saipan needed a new port.

Rear Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of the Pacific Command, said he will continue to send thousands of Navy personnel to the island because the CNMI is a safe place for his men.

Greenert said three Navy vessels more will be coming to bring in Navy personnel who will spend a few days of rest and recreation.

With a modern port facility, Greenert said he is confident that the Northern Marianas will succeed in its effort to entice more vessels to use the harbor.

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