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The Government is expected to look for a new vessel to replace the 34-year-old Warrior Spirit, which operates on the inter-island ferry service between Trinidad and Tobago as a cargo vessel. Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz told yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister that one of the vessel’s engines broke down on December 8, and efforts to repair it was unsuccessful. He said: “It had been running on one engine over the past few weeks, causing the service to deteriorate...The sailings were taking as many as 12 hours and the daily schedule had been reduced as a consequence.” “That puts us into a major problem,” Cadiz said, adding that the vessel takes “not only general cargo but heavy cargo, like steel beams, gravel, sand and heavy building materials.”
The vessel, which is due for dry docking next month, can also accommodate trailer trucks, he said. Cadiz said depending on the determination of the contract, the Government will look for either a new or newer vessel to operate the ferry service. The minister also said the vessel never operated at the contracted 16 knots speed. He said many unsuccessful attempts had been made to repair one of the engine and consequently, he added, the vessel was taking almost twice as long for sailings to Tobago—over 12 hours. Instead of daily trips, it sailed to Tobago every other day. Cadiz said on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the fast-ferry vessels would be transporting some of the freight which would have been transported on the Warrior Spirit, which was probably not the most suitable vessel for the Tobago sailing.
A new vessel will take between two and three years to acquire and a vessel will be required for the interim period. “We will still be limping along, but at least we will keep some capacity on the run,” he noted. Cadiz said all the stakeholders, including the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, had been meeting to ensure the needs of the public were met.