23 Apr 2004

American Samoa sells ship for knock-down price

3:11 pm on 23 April 2004

American Samoa has sold off a ship originally given to its government as a gift.

Sources say the former US research vessel was sold to a consortium in Samoa at a bargain price.

A fisherman in Pago Pago who had looked at the former NOAA vessel said the ship was worth more than half a million US dollars, and said he was shocked it sold for 100,000 US dollars.

A port administration official said although the sale was not advertised in American Samoa, people in the shipping and fishing industries knew the government was looking for a buyer.

The senior official admitted the ship had been sold for much less than it was worth, but said it had lain idle at the dock for more than a year.

The new owners of the Townsend Cromwell plan to use it for tours around Samoa, and for passenger and freight services from Samoa to Tonga, Fiji, Tokelau and Niue.