Tri-Marine wants to base their entire fleet in Pago Pago
Tri Marine International wants to have all of its boats based in American Samoa, utilizing the government owned Ronald Reagan Marine Railway Shipyard and bringing more money into the economy of this “paradise” — the “best place in the world” — according to the company’s chairman Renato Curto.
Bellevue based Tri Marine already has ten boats based in Pago Pago and is working on getting the construction of its tuna facility, Samoa Tuna Processors Inc., up and running, investing more than $200 million in the tuna boats and tuna facility.
Two Sundays ago, Curto and other shareholders were on island for brief meetings and follow up on the progress of its new cold storage facility construction as well as to see the redevelopment of the tuna processing facility.
They were also to look at some of their boats home based in American Samoa, a total of ten, and during the time of their visit about seven were in port and were being processed to depart out of Pago Pago.
“We are here to make sure that their operations — the boats — can be properly supported with the services and infrastructure they need here,” said Curto in a news conference last Wednesday afternoon. “Each time they come into port, they spend a considerable amount of money to buy fuel, lubes, salt, other supplies and consumables and to make repairs.”
“This is great for the local economy. However, we would like to do more. That’s going to take some investment in facilities,” he said, and noted the company wants to do a lot to help the territory flourish and bringing their boats here is one avenue that is working well so far.
“We want to support the local businesses as much as we can and we expect them to do the job for us. And we are taking measures to make sure that in case we cannot receive the service, we have a back-up plan,” he said.
Asked whether the company has decided to have the shipyard service their boats, Curto said “yes”.
“We want to make Pago Pago the base of our fleet for every thing our fleet needs,” he said and shared some numbers. He said that for every call into Pago Pago, Tri Marine spends an average of about $450,000 a boat, in things such as fuel, lubes, supplies, repairs.
“American Samoa is important to our [Tri Marine] group and it's important to our fleet,” he said and pointed out that they believe the shipyard has suffered for some time and the new changes have moved the shipyard forward, under the leadership of Carlos Sanchez, president and acting general manager of the Shipyard Services Authority.
“We believe that Mr. Sanchez has done a fantastic job in reviving what was there,” when the government retook the facility, said Curto, adding that the previous operator of the shipyard had not rendered service to the shipyard for years but had taken out what they could with nothing invested.
“And we are trying to give the shipyard all the support we can. Of course we want to do it gradually. Our fleet is made up of large vessels and we want to make sure that when we start using the shipyard for dry docking, everybody is super confident that everything is going to be fine,” he pointed out.
Curto said the company’s plans for its ships dry docking outside of American Samoa are done in advance and that involves a lot of money. “Hopefully soon we will spend everything in American Samoa. That is our goal, our expectation and our dream. We continue to have good communication with the shipyard,” he said.
“When everything is fine and dandy, we’re going to be the happiest people on earth to be here and our boats come here, anything is right here and [we] don’t have to go anywhere,” the chairman said. “Every time we go to the Philippines, to Singapore, to New Zealand — just think how much fuel we burn just to go there, and how much time we waste.”
“So why wouldn’t you want it to do here?" he added and noted with great pride that Tri Maine wants to work in close cooperation with the shipyard.
Meanwhile, company official Joe Hamby pointed out that Tri Marine’s boats based here are capable of catching and delivering fish stock to American Samoa and at times much more tuna than StarKist Samoa needs to process.
“We are not going to take our boats away from here. Every time we have fish from our boats available we offer it to StarKist — sometimes they don’t need it because it's more than what they need,” said Hamby.
So if there is “surplus fish” stock, the company either uses its current cold storage facility at the Samoa Tuna Processors Inc. site or freezer carriers come in take it out to other markets.
“You shouldn’t be alarmed if you see carriers here — they are not taking fish away from American Samoa, it's only the surplus,” he said.
Curto added that if the company wants to transship fish, the carriers are brought into the territory and that brings more business for American Samoa because the carriers themselves need things such as supplies and provision. “They bring additional business here... paradise, the best place in the world,” he added.