New Delhi/Kolkata: Adding yet another feather to it’s illustrious cap, GRSE Limited built Ocean-going Passenger-cum-Cargo Ferry MV ‘Ma Lisha’ to the Cooperative Republic of Guyana was delivered and commissioned on April 23 at Georgetown, Guyana. The presence of the President of Cooperative Republic of Guyana, HE Dr Mohammad Irfan Ali, Prime Minister of Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Brigadier (Retd.) Mark Anthony Phillips, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of Public Works, Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Bishop Juan Edghill, High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa and Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of GRSE, Commodore PR Hari IN (Retd), not only added grandeur to this event but raised the bar by several notches.
The historic event also witnessed the presence of Cabinet Members, Members from Diplomatic Community along with important dignitaries from Govt of India and Government of Cooperative Republic of Guyana. GRSE has become the only shipbuilder in the country to have designed and built an Ocean-going Passenger-cum-Cargo Ferry and delivered it to a South American country that is at a sailing distance of over 11,500 nautical miles from Kolkata.
In his address, HE Dr Mohammad Irfan Ali highlighted that, “Relationship between Guyana & India is important and critical for both the countries and MV MA Lisha has made the journey that is filled with friendship and one that symbolizes the relationship between India and Guyana cementing the values of trust, honour, respect, democracy and one in which we see the development of people of both the countries as a priority.”
He mentioned that GRSE being the lowest bidder had built the ship with every single feature the highest bidder was offering. The President also acknowledged GRSE’s contribution in training their local technicians on the maintenance and operations of this vessel and also providing medium- and long-term support on the up-keep and operation of the vessel. The President also reemphasized the importance of the name of the vessel, ‘MA Lisha’ which demonstrates the core value of friendship between India and Guyana.
In his speech during the commissioning ceremony of the vessel on April 23, Jaishankar lauded GRSE’s efforts. “Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic which followed soon after the agreement for the supply of the ferry was signed. I think its worth noting that the ferry was delivered on time and for that I congratulate GRSE. On January 12, MV MA Lisha was formally flagged off from Kolkata by Cmde Hari and sailed to Chennai and was hoisted on a Semi-submersible vessel MV Sunrise to be transported to Guyana. This is a unique feat of loading a fully built ship onto a transport vessel for shipping to Latin America and for us in India is in itself a new experience. Now its important that we look at this ferry and actually consider the larger context which is that of the of the long-standing development partnership between India and Guyana. Our cooperation is human centric. It reflects the priorities of the people and the Govt of Guyana,” Dr Jaishankar stated.
Dr Jaishankar also mentioned that so far, 640 Guyanese nationals have benefited from India’s technical and economic cooperation programs which are designed to enhance skills and capacity building. He further stated, “I am confident that our ties will continue to grow further. I am happy to note that we are working on variety of areas which directly benefit the lives of the people and a good example is this ferry. This is very much in line with the vision of Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi when it comes to international cooperation. I wish that India Guyana partnership will continue to move robustly on its positive trajectory and that the two countries are working together in many ways, is symbolic of strategic cooperation.”
Speaking on this historic occasion, Commodore PR Hari mentioned, “For us every shipbuilding project is special, but ‘MA Lisha’ was especially special, for it was from Kolkata, our city where we are based, 185 years back, the two ships SS Whitby and SS Hesperus set sail with Indian workers for Guyana. Over the last 185 years, nearly two centuries, this relationship has further strengthened and with the arrival of MA Lisha here, she will cement this relationship even more. GRSE has got the capability to build marine platforms ranging from 5-ton boats to 24,600 ton fleet tankers, from warships to commercial vessels. We are fully seized of the requirements of Guyana and I am very confident that with our capability, we will be able to meet all your needs and expectations in future.”
Cmde Hari expressed his deep appreciation to the Transport and Harbors Department, the Maritime Administration Department and the Public Works Ministry of Govt. Of Guyana, the Classification Society, the American Bureau of Shipping and High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr K J Srinivasa, who personally monitored and steered this project from conception to culmination.
Contract for this Ferry was signed between the Transport & Harbour Department (T&HD), Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd on January 13, 2021. GRSE was to design and build the vessel for US$ 12.7 million. On June 15, 2022, during her launch by Mrs Joan Edghill, wife of Bishop Juan Edghill, Minister of Public Works, Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, the Ferry was christened MV ‘Ma Lisha’ meaning Good Luck. On January 12, after completion of work and the certification process, MV Ma Lisha was formally flagged-off from Kolkata by Commodore PR Hari.
The Ferry is 70 metres long. It is propelled by two diesel engines and can attain a top speed of 15 knots. It is to be the largest and fastest among the ferries that now operate in the riverine and coastal parts of the Northwest District of Guyana. With a displacement of 1,700 Tons, the vessel can carry 294 passengers (including a 14-member crew), 14 cars, two trucks, 14 containers and other assorted cargo.