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Galleons Passage hand over today
The name has been painted on the vessel and four local experts who travelled to China are satisfied that the Galleons Passage, the US$17.4 million catamaran purchased by Government for the seabridge, is ready for handover today before it sets sail from China on Friday.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert, who has been keeping the country up to date on the acquisition of the vessel via his Twitter account, posted yesterday: “Galleons Passage almost ready for delivery in China. Delivery is now set for Wednesday February 7th, 2018. Vessel is scheduled to set sail for Trinidad and Tobago on February 9th, 2018.”
He also posted a picture of two workmen painting the name Galleons Passage on the vessel with the caption: “Name being painted on our new ropax ferry.”
Nidco chairman Herbert George told the T&T Guardian three mechanics and an engineer have been in China overseeing the final touches to the vessel. They also participated in sea trials. He explained that they had gone with a shopping list so they will “do the inspection, tick off what has been done and we will proceed from there.”
George did not say whether the mechanics and engineers are from Nidco or the Port Authority.
“They are from Trinidad with the requisite skill set that we have used to go there and to witness certain things, because you cannot do everything on the day of the handover of the transaction,” he said.
“When it is time to take delivery, which Minister Imbert said is tomorrow, then you know all the assurances can be given.”
Asked whether the local team will be travelling with the vessel when it leaves China for Trinidad, George said two of the four-member team will sail with the vessel.
“There were sea trials so they know how the vessel is sailing. It went from point A to point B and they know the speed, distance and the time it was supposed to take. We are satisfied that the vessel is working as we would like it to,” he said.
While there have been criticisms that the vessel might not be suited to the seabridge because of the rough seas, George said: “At the appropriate time we will show it all and let everybody see it.”
Asked whether a foreign crew will oversee maintenance of the vessel, George said when the water taxis were purchased a foreign team worked the vessel and in short order local people were able to take over. The same will happen with the Galleons Passage.
“Wherever the expertise exists here, we going to pull them together as a team and use them.That team will perform the maintenance and so on the vessel going forward,” he said.
George said the Galleons Passage should be here by April.
The vessel, which travels at speeds of between 12.7 to 19 knots, will take four hours one way between Trinidad and Tobago. It has an aluminium super structure and steel design, is 74 metres in length with a 2.75 draft, and according to Imbert can berth anywhere in the Port without dredging. The vessel has a passenger capacity of 700 and a vehicle capacity of 100.
In addition to US$17.4 million price tag for the vessel, Government also has to spend US$800,000 to sail it from China to T&T.
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