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Concerns grow over drifting vessels near Gasparee Island
The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) has started legal processes to remove two old vessels anchored near the Commission’s submarine cables off Gasparee Island. T&TEC northern area manager Richard Kissoon told the T&T Guardian the anchor of one of the vessels is hooked to the non-functional submarine cable.
The cable, which runs from the mainland to supply Gasparee Island, was damaged by an unknown boat about three years ago, said Gasparee homeowner Andy Campbell yesterday. T&TEC eventually installed a second new submarine cable which runs parallel to the older cable. But Campbell said Gasparee homeowners still experience power failure and they fear the strong currents will push the two vessels - which have a total of three anchors - to hook to the new submarine cable.
Kissoon said the matter is in the hands of T&TEC’s legal division. He said the division is working with the harbour master’s office to contact the ship owners to get them to move the Unity and Enterprise. According to former operations manager of the now-defunct Shipping Corporation of T&T (SCOTT) Frederick Alexander, the vessels were originally SCOTT vessels, built in 1986 by JJ Siestas to transport white oil and liquified natural gas.
Originally registered in The Bahamas, Lloyds Ship’s Registers describes the Unity as 86 metres long and the Enterprise as 69 metres long. The vessels later shifted from SCOTT to National Petroleum and then later sold. Campbell said the vessels shifted from their initial location and began drifting close to the areas of the T&TEC cables about a month ago.
Campbell said he wrote the harbour master about the situation as well as T&TEC, the Coast Guard and Regulated Industries Commission (RIC). He said the Coast Guard and RIC want the vessels removed, but the matteris in the harbour master’s purview.
“I’m aware T&TEC spent millions to deal with the first damaged T&TEC cable. We’re concerned the new cable, despite protective armour plating coating, will be hooked by the anchors of the two drifting vessels which pose a threat to it,” Campbell added. Other Gasparee homeowners said they feared the drifting vessels, now closer to the island, would eventually crash into their docks and destroy their homes.
Gasparee homeowner Robert Auerbac, expressing written concern, offered to supply crews to cut the mooring ties free of charge, if this was necessary to avert what he described as an “impeding disaster.” It is understood the harbour master is currently out of T&T and a second in command is in place.
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