The new ferry that links extreme south ports of Chile was officially presented in Puerto Williams and is already fully operational ahead of the summer season.
The 8.5 million dollars ferry “Yaghan” was built at the Chilean Navy Valdivia shipyard and has a 75 seat-berth capacity for long cruises and 200 seats for short links. The ferry additionally can transport 70 vehicles.
The ferry links Punta Arenas, capital of the Magallanes Region with Puerto Williams the capital Chilean Antarctic province and cuts sailing down to 28 hours. Puerto Williams lies on the Navarino Island south of Ushuaia (Argentine Tierra del Fuego) along the Beagle Channel and hopes in a near future to be fully incorporated to the cruise industry schedules.
The governor of Chilean Antarctica Nelson Cárcamo, the president of TABSA (Transbordadora Austral Broom), the private company which owns the ferry, special guests and local residents waited for the arrival of the “Yaghan” at the Puerto Williams terminal for her inaugural trip.
“As a community we are really satisfied and grateful to TABSA for this wonderful ‘gift’ of a fast ferry that links with Punta Arenas, which is part of the current government’s connectivity policy”, said governor Cárcamo.
“The joint effort from the government and the private sector has made this possible and is this particular case to establish closer links for the region with the rest of Chile. As President Sebastian Piñera said, we want to ensure that living in the extreme areas of Chile is enjoyable, a privilege and not a burden”.
“This is a dream come true for our community and we must be grateful because with the ferry and the new terminal virtually all our expectations of maritime connectivity have materialized”, said Hugo Henriquez, mayor of Puerto Williams.
The president of TABSA board Pedro Lecaros and the General Manager of the maritime operator Alejandro Kusanovic underlined the strong bet from the company in the development of Puerto Willimas, as well as pointing out the state of the art conditions of the 70 metres long ferry with all weather navigation equipment.
“This is a historic route of great navigators particularly the indigenous peoples the Yaghán to whose honour the ferry is named; They were brave canoe people who travelled all this region and its channels, and this but a modest acknowledgement of their talent, navigation skills and courage”, said Lecaros.
The ferry will be operating from the local terminal which was inaugurated last month by Chilean president Piñera at a cost of 3 million dollars. Piñera at the time promised a new wharf for the local fishing industry and the expansion of the main jetty for the docking of greater tonnage vessels.
The terminal included an esplanade of 3,000 square meters, with waiting lanes, a passenger assembly area and terminal, parking, green areas, additional services and two posts to facilitate ferry mooring.
At the time the Chilean president signed bills promoting tax incentives and development mechanisms for the southernmost part of Chile, such as recruitment incentives until 2025, the extension for 14 years of the investment bonus, and the special tax credit program for investment in the most remote zones, broadening its cover and doubling the funds available.