TRINIDAD and Tobago’s newest fast ferry, the Buccoo Reef, arrived at the Port of Port of Spain yesterday.
The vessel and crew will remain in quarantine and travellers will not be able to use the ferry for about a month.
There are also plans to acquire a dedicated cargo ferry.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan and chairman of the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) Herbert George were on hand when the 100-metre-long US$72 million vessel slipped into a berth at the Cruise Ship Complex at 3 p.m.
With Covid-19 protocols in place Sinanan explained that the public would not get to use the vessel for approximately another month.
He said medics were on board to test the crew for Covid-19.
If they test negative they will remain quarantined on the vessel for two weeks, after which if they all test negative again, sanitisation of the vessel will begin.
Sinanan was also asked about Government’s plans to acquire a cargo ferry and he explained that the plans have already been approved by Cabinet.
The country’s lone cargo vessel, the Cabo Star, is being leased from a private company at a rate of US$16,000 a day.
Sinanan said that like the Buccoo Reef and the APT James, which arrived in January this year, the cargo vessel will be sought carefully to meet Trinidad and Tobago’s exact specifications.
This includes accommodations at both Port of Spain and Scarborough in Tobago and the vessel’s handling of the rough waters between both islands.
No white elephants
George gave the specifications of the vessel.
“There is capacity for 1,000 passengers, 250 cars and is 100 metres long,” he said.
The vessel can cruise at a speed of 35 knots or 40.2 miles per hour.
“We cannot go fast as we leave both Trinidad or Tobago as the wake causes damage to people’s property,” he said.
The vessel, which was supposed to be delivered in January, began experiencing issues after it departed Hobart, Australia, where it was built.
George said while on its way the first time there were particles of foreign matter found in the cooling system which then had to be flushed.
He said that with the Buccoo Reef under warranty the manufacturer, Incat, took back the vessel, flushed its engines and changed parts at no extra cost.
“We have also made arrangements to ensure that both the Buccoo Reef and the APT James will be well maintained and will not be here as some sort of white elephant but available to serve the route,” he said.