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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, April 26) - The 700-passenger, 30- vehicle ferryboat Aremiti 5 arrived Sunday in Papeete Harbor, a 1.65-billion French Pacific franc (US$16.8 million) investment with no place to go.

"We will start sea trials with a Tahitian crew on Monday," said Tuanua Degage, the captain of the vessel who brought the 56-meter (184-foot) ferryboat from Australia to Papeete with an Australian crew of 15.

But the immediate future of the Aremiti 5 is up in the air.

The owners claim the ship has only one destiny—operation as a shuttle boat carrying passengers and motor vehicles between the island of Tahiti and its sister island of Moorea.

"Our request for a license will be debated soon before the (French Polynesia government’s) Council of Ministers," Degage told Tahitipresse. "If the government refuses our license for Moorea, we’ll sell the Aremiti 5. Two shipowners, one from the Bahamas and the other from Italy, are ready to buy the ferry from us."

If the Aremiti 5 obtains its license for Moorea, the Aremiti 4 ferry that now shuttles between the two islands will be transferred to the Leeward Islands for operation.

The Aremiti 5 has a top speed of 35 knots with a load of 90 tons and will be able to travel from Tahiti to Moorea in less than 25 minutes, Degage said.

From 1993 to 2003, the number of passengers carried between Tahiti and Moorea by the ship companies Aremiti and Moorea Ferry increased by 50 percent to reach 138 million passengers.

April 27, 2004



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