Long way from Italy

ALTRUISM is commonly defined as the practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the wellbeing of others according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

That is exactly what the crew of Patterson Shipping Ltd’s (PTL) latest vessel Spirit of Altruism did when they set sail from the port of Napoli in Italy to bring their new vessel to our shores.

“It was a truly trying experience having to spend over a month travelling through some of the worlds most dangerous and pirate-infested waters. We were the first ship carrying the Fiji flag to sail through the port of Messina Italy and likewise through the Suez Canal,” Patterson Shipping Ltd director Trevor Patterson said.

The route of the voyage meant those bringing the vessel to Fiji sailed past the islands of Sicily and Crete, through the Suez Canal past Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia all notorious for pirates.

“We had to hire armed security to provide the additional protection while sailing through the Suez and the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. It was a hair-raising experience especially coming from our region of the world where we are not used to these types of situations.”

However, after 45 days and 15 hours on the high seas, PTL safely delivered the 74m x 17m, 3457 tonne to Fiji to complement its existing fleet of Spirit of Love and the Spirit of Harmony.

“We are truly happy to have arrived safely and likewise to introduce to Fiji this new passenger and roll-on roll-off cargo ship. We continue to uphold the Patterson family tradition of providing the best services in sea travel for our customers.”

The name Patterson has been synonymous with the local shipping industry ever since 1928 when they introduced their first vessel AK Jubilee service between Levuka and Lodoni Village in Tailevu near Ratu Kadavulevu School. The founders of Patterson Brothers Shipping, George and Reginald Patterson — sons of Thomas Patterson a blacksmith and engineer who came to Fiji from Newcastle upon Tyne, Scotland in 1876, originally operated as a partnership called Patterson Brothers Partnership.

“We are very thankful to the Fiji Development Bank for their continuous financial support allowing us to purchase this new vessel all the way from the other side of the world. They have been with us for a long time and we are happy to share our success with them,” said Trevor.

FDB has been part of the Patterson Ship Ltd since 1983 when Henry Patterson — father of George and Trevor Patterson the current directors — got a loan from the bank for the purchase of the vessel TSMV Ovalau II from western Japan.

“It (Spirit of Altruism) will complement our existing fleet meaning more frequency of travels through our main routes of Natovi, Buresala, Nabouwalu, Koro and Savusavu.”

Trevor revealed the new vessel has the capacity of 600 passengers. However, they will limit the number to less than 600 to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable ride for their customers.

Sea travellers to the Northern Division are sure to be riding in comfort and style with the Spirit of Altruism providing up class travel and enjoyable entertainment on board.

* Lote Raboila is the Fiji Development Bank’s media & community relations officer.

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