Direct Shipping Between Japan, CNMI Coming Soon

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APL to introduce Guam Saipan Express service

By Frauleine S. Villanueva

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Oct. 27, 2015) – A direct shipping service from Japan to Saipan will soon be available in the CNMI.

The American President Line, or APL, is introducing their new Guam Saipan Express, a fortnightly service that will have a Yokohama-Saipan-Guam route.

According to APL, their ship will be making direct calls on Saipan, making them the only carrier with a U.S. freight vessel to do so.

"We’ll be offering another alternative for bringing freight not only from the U.S. mainland directly to Saipan and Guam, but because what we’re offering is a single ship that will come out of Yokohama down to Saipan then to Guam then back to Yokohama, that will connect with our U.S. flag strain coming out of the U.S. West Coast," APL general manager for Guam and Micronesia John Selleck said.

According to Selleck, this is different as Saipan is usually served via Guam from the U.S. West Coast and then barged in.

With this service, anywhere in the world that connects with Japan can now connect with Saipan and Guam, Selleck said.

"APL has 80 services worldwide in 95 different countries so we can bring freight from anywhere in the world that connects with Yokohama. We can then bring down to Saipan and Guam," he said.

APL said the ship will arrive on Saipan every other Saturday, four days after its stop in Yokohama. Their ship has its own cranes for direct loading and unloading at the Port of Saipan.

The ship, which will be called APL Guam, is currently dry-docked in China and is in the process of being converted into a U.S. flagship, renamed and repainted.

It has a capacity of 1,000 TEUs or 20-foot equivalent units, which means it can carry 1,000 20-foot containers or 550 40-foot containers. It can also carry 200 refrigerated containers.

With all the developments that are coming up on the island, Selleck said this could help with the needs of the construction industry.

"We think that will allow us to carry large project surges for construction," Selleck said.

They plan to have the first shipment to come out of Yokohama on Nov. 24, which is anticipated to arrive on Nov. 28 on Saipan and on Nov. 29 in Guam.

APL said it has been looking at providing this service for a long time and that they aim to help the market on Saipan grow.

"What we aim to do is to help Saipan and Guam businesses with their logistics, whether finding better ways to source products and bring them here," Selleck said.

Should the service prove profitable, APL is ready to have another ship dedicated to this route.

"If we get support, we’re prepared to put in a second ship so we would go weekly service," Selleck said.

This second ship will most likely be named APL Northern Marianas.

"Our vision for this service is to go to two-ship service. The second ship will be a little different. If there’s improvement at the port of Tinian, we might be able to put in a shallower draft ship that can make direct calls to Tinian," Selleck said.

APL, which is among the largest shipping companies in the world, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines.

APL had a 10-year agreement with Matson in their operation in Guam before Matson had its own service when the agreement ended in 2006.

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