Being a country with atolls and islands spread over a vast area of ocean, but only one atoll having an airport, Tuvalu relies heavily on sea transportation to travel between islands. The government owned Nivaga III has just been delivered as the newly acquired replacement for the old Nivaga II.
On my visit, I found the Nivaga II loading at the wharf. She looked a little rusty and it looked like she had seen better days.
This ship was built in 1988 and used for transporting people and supplies between Tuvalu’s islands, including returning members of parliament to their home islands, or – as I saw when visiting Funafuti – school children from all over the country to a national sporting carnival. Its schedule apparently also included regular voyages to Fiji, which is around 4 days’ voyage.
The website Andy Explores has a great account of booking a trip from Funafuti to Niutao Island, and explaining just how Nivaga II operated. It seems that quite a few vagaries affected the schedule and voyage times.
We all know the story – Leo the young rogue blags his way onto the ‘unsinkable ship’, gets drunk with some Irish types, sees Winslet in a corset , sharpens his pencil (euphemism optional), draws a picture, and steams up a car window. In the mean time the ‘unsinkable ship’ hits an iceberg and sinks…
Information, photos and AIS vessel tracker for the Ship Nivaga II (IMO 8700216
Nivaga III was donated by Japan, and was delivered in early December 2015. She looked very white and shiny in the photos of her delivery to Funafuti.
There was a big welcoming ceremony for the Nivaga III at the wharf.