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Imbert: New ferry can handle journey

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Finance Minister Colm Imbert is insisting that the Galleons Passage, the US$17.4 million ferry purchased for the seabridge, can easily make the journey between Port-of-Spain and Scarborough.

And he says an international crew has arrived in Nansha, China, from Lithuania and Latvia, to start the process of getting the Galleons Passage fuelled up and started up for its two-month journey here. Nidco said yesterday the vessel will leave China on February 27 and arrive on April 28, permitting good weather. Imbert took to Twitter to update the country on the vessel’s status.

Responding to claims by maritime experts that due to its length it would be difficult for the vessel to sail between Trinidad and Tobago, Imbert said: “The Galleons Passage is classified for operation in significant wave heights of up to 4.5m (15 feet) and maximum wave heights of 6.7m (22 feet) and near gale force winds of 7 Pa.” On the Beaufort force system, 7 is near gale force winds at 28-33 knots. Imbert said the Galleons Passage, with its bulbous bow, “can easily make the journey between Port-of-Spain and Scarborough in comfort.”

Maritime experts, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the situation with the T&T Express which was pulled from service again yesterday because of rough seas pokes holes in Imbert’s argument. Yesterday the Port Authority advised that for the period yesterday to today wave heights would be in excess of three metres and as a result sailings of the T&T Express had been cancelled.

Nidco said the vessel will sail from Nanasha to Hong Kong where it will stop for one day for bunkering, it will then sail to Honolulu, Hawaii where another bunkering stop will be made before going to the Panama Canal where it will stop for two days for “transitting” before moving on to Cuba where alterations, including a full canopy over the sundeck; installation of canopies over exposed sections of vehicle deck; installation of washroom facilities at sundeck level—will be done. Nidco said this was all in accordance with details as agreed to with the buyer. The Met Office warned that northerly swells were forecast to reach three metres in open waters and above 1.5m in sheltered areas. However, it said individual wave heights may reach in excess of three metres at times.

As these northerly swells approach shallow waters, the Met Office said the wave heights can increase sharply and as a result, may lead to battering waves, especially along the coastlines.

Experts say if the T&T Express, which is more than 91 metres in length, cannot sail when waves are in excess of three metres, it will be impossible for the Galleons Passage which is 74 metres in length to sail the open seas in rough waters.

The vessel remains docked in a shipyard in Guangzhou, China yesterday and Imbert gave no update on when the vessel will leave.

He has previously indicated that the Chinese New Year celebrations had delayed the process of acquiring the required permits for its trans-Pacific ocean travel and Panama Canal.

Notwithstanding the departure of the new ferry from China, he said, it is in good serviceable condition, with all equipment, machinery and engines fully functional.


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