A ceremonial ground-breaking was held at the Satala Shipyard, the site of the forthcoming project which includes the construction of a new two-story building and major improvements to existing 3,000 ton and 1,000 ton slipways.  The breezy morning set the stage for the ceremony which was well attended by many dignitaries, relevant agency representatives, as well as governing board members, management, and staff of the Satala Shipyard Services Authority.

The event opened with welcoming remarks from HTC Moefaauo Bill Emmsley, CEO of Shipyard Services Authority.  Next an enthusiastic hymn from the staff of Shipyard preceded the blessing and invocation by Reverend Patolo Mageo, who as mentioned later by the CEO, has familial ties to the land where the Shipyard sits.

CEO Moefaauo next spoke in English explaining the importance of the milestone marked at the ceremony.  “Other than New Zealand, we are the only 3,000 ton slipway in the region”.  He stated, “We want to make sure that we protect and preserve this asset that belongs to the people of American Samoa”. verend Mageo, dignitaries conducted the ceremonial shoveling of soil and finished with closing remarks by the CEO Moefaauo.

Opening remarks were next offered by Chairman of the Shipyard Board of Directors, Mr. Keniseli Lafaele.  He provided a history of how the Shipyard Building and Improvements project was born out a directive by Governor Lolo, who after an inspection of the Shipyard in 2015 assembled the Board of Directors.  “The Governor envisioned the Shipyard as a benefit for generations to come, a place for local workers to develop skills and contribute to the future of American Samoa”. 

Chairman Lafaele spoke about the importance of centralizing many critical functions of the Shipyard and listed benefits, such as improving and maintaining services between Tutuila, Manu’a Islands, Aunu’u and Swains, and the implementation of the newly designed “super-alia” that will improve the productivity of local fisheries. To reinforce the value of investing in our own people to execute local enterprise ventures, Chairman Lafaele closed his remarks by referencing to a recent trip to Manu’a for the Solar Panel project which now provides free and environmentally friendly energy on Ta’u Island.  He lauded the efforts of 15 local residents that were the main labor in the execution of the project, 4 of those residents are now employed by ASPA to manage this site as well as other job responsibilities. The shipyard amenities are in the spirit “for our people and by our people.”

The keynote address was delivered by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga who first acknowledged the gathering, then commended the Shipyard Services Authority Board. “This is an occasion when you know when a committee is operating properly because you witness their accomplishments”, the Governor said. Governor Lolo reflected on the importance of ocean resources to our Samoan culture and way of life. The Governor spoke about the importance of the Shipyard to present and future generations of American Samoa.  He emphasized that regarding this challenge, “the Government will do whatever it must to ensure that the Shipyard continues to improve, because it is critical to our economy, our government, our local fishermen, our businesses and our people”.

Governor Moliga thanked the ASEDA Board and the Department of the Interior for approving funding for this vital project. He then explained how he has tasked the Shipyard Services Board to work towards having the Shipyard fully certified and insured by the end of 2018 in order to continue to meet challenges with real solutions.  He implored the board to heed the passion and knowledge of their employees who continue to develop skills and knowledge in serving the needs of American Samoa.  Before ending his remarks, the Governor asked the board to “continue to show strong leadership through their works”.

Following a brief speech and consecration of the land by Reverend Mageo, dignitaries conducted the ceremonial shoveling of earth and finished with closing remarks by the CEO Moefaauo.