A.P.T. James

The Buccoo Reef, the newest fast ferry purchased by Government to service the domestic seabridge, should be back on its delivery journey to Trinidad and Tobago by the end of this month, says National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco) chairman Herbert George.

Australian shipbuilder Incat Tasmania handed over the 100-metre high-speed catamaran to the T&T Government in January.

The vessel has the capacity to transport 995 passengers (including crew), 250 vehicles and a travelling speed of up to 37 knots.

On January 21, it set sail from Hobart, the capital of Australia’s island state of Tasmania, to T&T.

However, at 398 nautical miles into the journey, alarms were triggered, forcing the vessel to turn around and return to Hobart.

Speaking at a Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting yesterday, held to enquire into Nidco’s operations, George explained that during the delivery voyage to T&T, one of the Buccoo Reef’s main engines started to overheat.

He said the ferry’s master decided to return to Australia, although he was told to proceed with the delivery and the issue could have been dealt with subsequently.

“But anyhow, he turned back to have it sorted out. And we were in agreement with that. Upon its return to Hobart, that is where the shipbuilder’s yard was in Australia, they did a troubleshooting and found that there’s a problem with the cooling water pump. Actually, there was a leak on it, and they said they set about checking that pump. All those works are being done under guarantee,” George stated.

“So they got in touch with the original equipment manufacturer, which is MAN, because MAN is the manufacturer of the main engine. MAN removed that pump, replaced certain parts of the pump and reinstalled that pump,” he added.

He said upon sea trial, it was discovered that another pump was leaking, so the engine manufacturer serviced the second pump.

“And what they found out was that the filter on those pumps were being clogged with foreign matter. And the thing about it is those foreign items, sludge or whatever it is; in that environment there with high pressure, high temperature, they are very abrasive so that is what was causing the seals or the pumps to be damaged,” George explained.

He said MAN decided to replace all four cooling water pumps, which had to be shipped from Germany.

When the pumps are installed, the Buccoo Reef would be able to resume its delivery journey, George said.

“That should be sometime towards the end of this month, of course subject to the repairs being successful,” he said.

George assured that once all repairs are completed, a sea trial will be done before the Buccoo Reef sets sail again.

“We have a consultant on the ground in Australia looking after our interests. He’s a marine engineer that we used previously,” he said. The newly acquired fast ferry, the A.P.T. James, as well as the T&T Spirit are currently servicing the seabridge.

George said so far there have not been any major problems with the A.P.T. James’ performance.

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