King launches new MV Tongiaki; outer islanders praise catamaran’s high speed

The high speed of the $8.3 million pa’anga aluminium catamaran King Tupou VI has launched today was highly praised by outer islanders.

The government’s funded vessel which operated by FISA could travel from Nuku’alofa to Nomuka, an island 108 kilometres away from Nuku’alofa, in about two hours.

The twin-hull boat could take less than two hours before it reaches Pangai, Ha’apai which is 61 kilometres away from Nomuka.

The MV Tongiaki could take less than three hours before it would arrive in Neiafu, Vava’u from Pangai.

This means, the 33-metre catamaran which carries 200 passengers, could take less than 12 hours to travel from Nuku’alofa to Vava’u and return to Nuku’alofa the same day.

FISA’s regular passengers from Vava’u and Ha’apai took to social media to welome the great progress in the inter-island sea transportation.

Some said they would no longer travel by aircraft because the catamaran was “fast and cheaper.”

MV Tongiaki. Photo/by Courtesy of Patimiosi Ngūngūtau

Launch

At the launch today the Minister of Public Enterprises Hon. Dr Saia Piukala said the MV Tongiaki was the most and latest advanced to join FISA’s fleet.

He said FISA’s MV ‘Otu Anga’ofa used to travel at 12 knots while the MV Tongiaki traveled at 20 – 22 knots.

He said the shipping company has planned to extend its services to Fiji and Samoa in the near future.

The MV Tongiaki was expected to leave at 8:00am Saturday 13 on its maiden voyage to Ha’apai and Vava’u and was scheduled to be back at Nuku’alofa at 7.30pm the same day.

King Tupou VI launched the ferry in a ceremony attended by government and church leaders including Deputy Prime Minister Sēmisi Sika, Speaker of Parliament Lord Fakafanua and FWC President Dr ‘Ahio.

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