15 Jan 2018

New high speed catamaran service for Tonga

9:11 am on 15 January 2018

The Tongan King has launched a multi-million dollar catamaran that is expected to offer a new high speed service throughout the island group and possibly internationally as well.

The $US3 million MV Tongiaki was launched by King Tupou on Friday.

Matangi Tonga reported the aluminium catamaran would be used from Tongatapu to the outer groups of Ha'apai and Vava'u and may also be pushed into service along routes to Samoa and Fiji.

The nearly 33 metre long vessel, is fully air-conditioned, and can carry up to 200 passengers in a luxury seating.

Stephen Edwards from the Friendly Island Shipping Agency says the MV Tongiaki will improve shipping services.

Mr Edwards said in the past his agency has had to charter a catamaran from Australia at a cost of thousands of dollars a day when their large passenger ferry was out of service.

The MV Tongiaki is capable of travelling at 31 knots, but will mainly move at speeds of up to 22 knots top save fuel.