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PH-flagged Iris Paoay departs Manila for maiden US journey

  • The 1,118-TEU Iris Paoay embarked on its maiden US voyage on Sept 23, the first Philippine-flagged containership to sail directly to the US in 30 years
  • The vessel will sail for 27 days from Manila South Harbor to the Port of Long Beach, making stops in Cebu and Davao
  • The service provides much-needed vessel space for local exporters hard hit by pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions
  • The vessel is carrying around 700 containers
  • Iris Logistics operates Iris Paoay

The MV Iris Paoay embarked on its maiden voyage to the US on September 23, the first Philippine-flagged containership to sail directly to the US in about 30 years, according to Royal Cargo, parent firm of vessel operator Iris Logistics.

The 1,118 twenty foot-equivalent unit capacity vessel departed from Manila South Harbor to the Port of Long Beach in the US, with stops in Cebu and Davao. Sailing time is about 27 days.

Regular ports of call will be Manila South Harbor-Cebu-Cagayan De Oro-Davao-Long Beach-Manila South Harbor.

The vessel is carrying about 700 containers (a combination of 20-footers, 40-footers, and reefers), Royal Cargo president and chief executive officer Elmer Sarmiento told PortCalls in a text message.

The new service seeks to promote participation of Philippine domestic carriers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade lanes and increase competitiveness of Filipino importers and exporters.

READ: All systems go for US-bound PH cargo ship

It is also in response to the call of local exporters experiencing supply chain difficulties due to COVID-19-induced restrictions, including lack of vessel space, soaring freight rates, and container shortage resulting in shipment delays and huge losses.

During the virtual maiden voyage ceremony on September 23, Royal Cargo group CEO Michael Raeuber said he hopes their decision to deploy Iris Paoay inspires other domestic shipping players to provide capacity to local exporters on the intra-Asia trade and, later, to the rest of the world.

He also hopes government will support similar moves by encouraging and incentivizing domestic shipping operators.

In a recorded message for the maiden voyage ceremony, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the Department of Trade and Industry supports Royal Cargo’s policy recommendation to amend Maritime Industry Authority Memorandum Circular No. OS-2019-02 to allow Philippine-registered vessels to concurrently engage in domestic and international trade.

MARINA MC OS-2019-02 provides rules on the registration and documentation of ships for permanent conversion of trading from domestic to international voyages.

The Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc (PHILEXPORT) earlier said the announcement of Iris Logistics’ US service was a welcome development for struggling exporters. Results of a July 2021 survey conducted by PHILEXPORT showed exporters considered lack of space on international shipping lines as their top shipping challenge.

The same survey revealed most exporters required space on westbound routes, with the US and European countries as main target destinations.

Aside from Iris Logistics, Davao-based Reefer Express Filipinas Line, Inc also started a new service in response to the call of exporters. Bahamas-flag vessel MV Cool Spirit in late August set sail from General Santos and is set to arrive at the Port of Philadelphia on September 30.

Another vessel of Reefer Express that can carry 700 TEUs of capacity will sail to the US West Coast from Davao through Thailand on October 5. – Roumina Pablo

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