Oleander returns bigger and better
The MV Oleander, the third vessel to bear the name, is longer and wider than its predecessor.
It started its career as “the lifeblood of our island” at a special ceremony in Hamilton Harbour.
Barry Brewer, the president and chief executive of the Neptune Group, the owners of Bermuda Container Line, said it was his hope to see a Bermudian captain of the new Oleander and that Bermudians should consider careers on board the cargo ship.
He said: “This company tries to encourage Bermudians to get into the industry — we give them time on the ship so if they want to become a captain, chief, engineer or surveyor, they can do that.
“I think that is the future for Bermuda — we are mariners to our core.”
Mr Brewer was speaking as VIPs, shareholders, customers and guests toured the ship, which was strung with bunting, signal flags and draped in a giant Bermuda flag.
He said: “By any standard, the new Oleander is an amazing vessel and it is totally customised to service the diverse future needs of Bermuda's importers.
The new Oleander is 120 metres long, 20 metres wide, and weighs 8,313 tonnes. She is only one metre longer than her predecessor but is significantly wider and so can take more than 450 20-foot containers, which is about one third more container capacity.
“The garage has been tripled in capacity to accommodate a wide variety of equipment such as trailers, buses, construction machinery, cars, boats and weather-sensitive bulk cargo.
Mr Brewer added: “The bow design is completely different to better handle the very rough North Atlantic winter weather.
Smoke stack emissions are now better controlled and should the market ever warrant, the ship can be converted to run LNG, making it more environmentally friendly.”
Pamela Ferreira, the owner of the MarketPlace supermarket chain, and Nancy Gosling, the president of Gosling's Rum, christened the new ship.
Both women are directors and major customers of BCL, which operates a weekly service between the US and Bermuda.
Ms Ferreira said she was thrilled to take part in “one of sailing's most captivating rituals”.
She added as she poured a tot of rum on to the ship's deck: “This ship is the lifeblood of our island. It is worth noting that, by tradition, a woman is usually invited to sponsor a vessel as its godmother.
“This ceremony today seeks to bestow good luck and divine protection over this seagoing vessel and for the safe arrival of all its cargo and all that sail aboard.”
As “godmothers”, Ms Ferreira and Ms Gosling are, by tradition, considered permanent members of the ship's company and are expected take a long-term interest in the ship and care for the crew's wellbeing.
Ms Ferreira said: “I can supply the food and Nancy can supply the booze.”
Coralita Darrell, 94, the wife of BCL co-founder and former chairman Gilbert Darrell, who christened the previous Oleander, also attended the event.
Ed Christopher, the Hamilton town crier, rang his bell to start the christening ceremony announced that June 10 would be named “Oleander Day”.
Guests at the event included Alison Crocket, the Deputy Governor; Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier; Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition; and Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton.
The Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, the Bishop of Bermuda, and the Right Reverend Wesley Spiewak, the Catholic Bishop of Hamilton, blessed the ship and her crew.
The company said its ship, which will be captained by Tomasz Koszczynski, is the fastest sea service to Bermuda.
The Oleander predecessor and namesake has been sold to new owners in Turkey.
The new ship was made and launched in China and made its maiden voyage to Bermuda in March.