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Galleons Passage faces media scrutiny

Published: 
Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, Nidco officials and the media will finally tour the Galleons Passage this morning after it finally docked at the Port of Port-of-Spain overnight following unexpected delays on the way here yesterday.

Initially, the vessel was scheduled to arrive at the port at 2 pm yesterday but at about 11 am a release from the National Infrastructure Development Company said it experienced strong currents some 75 nautical miles off PoS and its captain had to reduce its speed accordingly.

Upon the vessel’s docking here, officials, including from Customs and Excise, were on hand to carry out a routine inspection and give it clearance.

The war of words between the two parties continued yesterday after UNC activist Devant Maharaj on Sunday claimed the vessel had stalled near Venezuela. On Sunday he claimed the vessel was adrift and had about 38 defects, adding a barge and tug was sent to refuel the vessel.

But this was denied by Nidco chairman Herbert George, who instead said the rough sea conditions had led to it slowing down. Maritime Services Inspector Ronald Alfred meanwhile said a report from Tsunami Marine Ltd which the Opposition used to allege the vessel had 38 defects was incomplete.

Alfred said the report was done in the absence of stability reports which were unavailable to its author. He added that Nidco had reports which show the Galleons Passage is “100 per cent safe for operation in T&T waters.”

Timeline

January 7: PM Dr Keith Rowley announces acquisition of a new boat in an address to nation.
January 18: Finance Minister Colm Imbert announces several rigorous checks were done to ensure the new US$17.4m Galleons Passage met all the requirements to operate on the domestic seabridge. He said the vessel is owned by Sea Transport Corporation of Australia and was built at the Nansha Shipyard in Guangzhou, China. Marine Traffic sites list the vessel as having been named as the Dona Mercedes by the Venezuelan owner. The name was changed to the Galleons Passage, the historical name of the route between Trinidad and Tobago.
January 20: Imbert announces Government is taking delivery of the ferry in China on or around February 9, 2018. Estimated arrival date in Trinidad was April.
January 24: Galleons Passage goes on drydock in China for final inspection prior to delivery to Government.
February 5: Imbert says Galleons Passage almost ready for delivery in China. Delivery is now set for February 7 and vessel is scheduled to sail for T&T on February 9, 2018.
February 6: Imbert tweets picture of name being painted on “our new RoPax ferry”.
February 8: Lloyds Register Classification Society issues the Confirmation of Class Certificate to the ferry as a 100A1 SSC passenger ship. Imbert explained “100” means the ship is suitable for seagoing service. “A” means the ship was constructed or accepted into Lloyds Register class and is maintained in good and efficient condition. “1” means she has good and efficient anchoring and mooring equipment. Government pays US$ 17.4 million, less 5% retention for Galleons Passage. Vessel registered in name of NIDCO.
February 15: Imbert announces that Chinese New Year celebrations delayed the process for acquiring required permits for trans-Pacific ocean travel and Panama Canal. CNY celebrations were to end in one week. Thereafter, the Galleons Passage would travel 11,000 nautical miles from Hong Kong to PoS.
February 23: Imbert announces Galleons Passage is classified for operation in significant wave heights of up to 4.5m (15 ft) and maximum wave heights of 6.7m (22 ft) and near gale force winds of 7 Pa. International crew arrives in Nansha, China, from Lithuania and Latvia, to start the process of getting the vessel fuelled, started up and loaded with supplies and ocean class safety equipment in preparation for departure to T&T.
February 24: Imbert announces Galleons Passage will travel from China to Honolulu, Hawaii, through the Panama Canal, with a stop at the Damex Shipyard in Santiago de Cuba for enhancements, including additional canopies and additional toilets for passengers on the upper sundeck and canopies for the vehicle deck. One hundred of the 700 seats were also to be upgraded.
February 27: Galleons Passage sets sail from Bonny Fair Shipyard in Nansha, China, en route to Hong Kong.
March 3: Galleons Passage approaches Taiwan on its way to Shanghai to install specialised fuel containers for trans-Pacific journey to Honolulu.
March 5: Galleons Passage arrives at the Port of Shanghai, where it was scheduled to be fitted with additional fuel tanks to facilitate Pacific journey.
March 7: NIDCO says vessel was unable to berth at the Port of Shanghai because of a backlog of commercial vessels as a result of poor weather conditions. Installation of fuel tanks delayed.
March 10: Galleons Passage sets sail for Yokohama, Japan, for the installation of fuel tanks and bunkering.
March 12: Imbert tells Senate that “barring inclement weather and other unforeseen conditions” the Galleons Passage will arrive in Port-of- Spain at the end of April.
March 13: Galleons Passage arrives in Yokohama, Japan. Bad weather again delays sailing of the vessel.
March 17: Galleons Passage departs for Honolulu, Hawaii. The journey of more than 3,000 nautical miles took just about two weeks.
March 30: Galleons Passage arrives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
April 10: Routine checks and inspections by the United States Coast Guard-Port State Control Department and Lloyds Register completed on vessel.
April 11: Imbert dismisses claims by Sea Transport that arrival of the vessel will be delayed until May as ‘speculative’.
April 12: Galleons Passage departs Honolulu for Acapulco, Mexico. En route to Mexico the raw water pump on the starboard side develops mechanical problems. This, coupled with unfavourable conditions, results in a reduction in vessel speed from 11 knots to 5.7 knots.
April 17: Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan says vessel will arrive in T&T in mid-May.
April 28: Galleons Passage arrives at the Port of Acapulco 28 for bunkering.
April 30: Galleons Passage berths at the Port of Acapulco.
May 7: NIDCO advises a replacement for the raw water pump arrived in Mexico but did not meet specifications. The old pump was repaired for use.
May 10: Galleons Passage sets sail from Mexico to Panama. Prime Minister Rowley tells parliament after suffering a few delays vessel should arrive by end of May, good weather permitting.
May 16: Galleons Passage arrives in Panama. Vessel boarded by the Canal port captain, who identified the need for modifications to be made to the pilot boarding station for compliance with the Canal requirements.
May 17: A contractor boards vessel to assess modifications required. Imbert contradicts this, saying the vessel was delayed while passing through the Canal as it was given lower priority than other vessels such as commercial tankers.
May 23: Galleons Passage departs Panama.
May 26: Galleons Passage arrives in Santiago de Cuba to undergo retrofitting works. The duration of these works was to be confirmed at a later date.
June 1: NIDCO advises there was a setback in the retrofitting work arising from delays in the completion of designs and consequential issue of approved drawings by the seller. Shipyard also experienced delays in procurement of the requisite materials for these works.
June 20: Twenty-five days after Galleons Passage docked in Santiago de Cuba, Imbert tells Parliament the Government has decided to bring it to T&T because no retrofitting can been done because some of the equipment needed by the seller to complete the enhancement work agreed to in the contract for sale can’t be acquired from Australia due to the embargo against Cuba.
July 11: Galleons Passage leaves Cuba. NIDCO president Esther Farmer says there were no issues before it left on its journey to T&T.
NIDCO stated that weather permitting, the Galleons Passage was estimated to arrive on July 16 (yesterday).
July 15: Galleons Passage slows down after encountering rough wave conditions.

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