Shipping Company APL Starts Service To Guam, CNMI

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

First competition to Matson since 2011

By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (The Guam Daily Post, Nov. 26, 2015) – Shipping company American Presidential Lines or APL is planning to dock here for the first time on Dec. 6, and will be the first U.S.-flagged carrier other than Matson Inc. to bring cargo to Guam’s port since Horizon Lines discontinued its carrier service to the region in 2011.

John Selleck, APL Guam and Micronesia general manager, said the vessel, APL Guam, will depart Yokohama on Dec. 2. The date is a week later than originally scheduled. Selleck attributed the delay to inclement weather in recent months that has hindered workers from putting the final touches on the vessel, including the final painting.

The work should be completed soon, according to Selleck, who said the APL Guam is scheduled to leave the shipyard at the end of this week.

"On the first voyage, we’re actually going to be making an inducement call to Subic Bay carrying some military vehicles," Selleck said. "One of the advantages of the ship being in place is that we have a little time in our schedule, we can make a diversion call."

APL announced it was going to start serving Guam and Saipan in October. The Guam Saipan Express, or GSX, port rotation will be Yokohama, Japan, to Saipan to Guam and back to Yokohama.

Arrangements have since been made with the Guam and Saipan ports for the new carrier, Selleck said. The Port Authority of Guam and Port of Saipan are ready for APL to arrive next month, he said.

Felix Pangelinan, acting general manager of the Guam port, said personnel are able to accommodate the APL’s arrival next month. Pangelinan added that the addition of APL service to Guam is a positive development for the island. "Anytime there’s more shipping companies bringing cargo to Guam it’s competition, and competition brings competitive rates," he said.

APL decided on a Sunday arrival schedule so clients would be able to get their goods on Monday. Selleck said it is an advantage for them to have goods coming in on a different day than Matson. "There will be additional work for the stevedores and will help spread out the load through the week," he said. "Our customers may receive some freight with our other carrier and some with us, they can have their warehouses processing containers earlier in the week."

Selleck said clients in Guam have been receptive to APL. Now the line is working with clients to find out what rates will work for them for their service.

"A lot of people are coming up with creative ways to utilize our service," Selleck said. "There’s a lot of interest in shipping U.S.-flagged (items) out of Japan and Korea especially for a lot of projects going on that require the U.S. flag for military construction in Guam."

There’s been large interest from Guam contractors to bring in steel from Japan, Selleck said. Clients have also proposed possibly bringing in beer from Mexico to Guam, instead of getting it from Los Angeles, Selleck added.

While APL officials have said they’ve been eyeing service to Guam for years, with recent developments related to the military buildup, they decided it was time to launch GSX. Selleck said he is optimistic about the service. "I think the longevity of the service looks great. Just the growth that’s coming to Guam, there was a need for additional capacity. I think there would’ve been some issues going forward without a second carrier coming in," he said.

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