Acting Prime Minister, Colm Imbert has announced that the Galleons Passage has left Cuba for T&T. He said “The Government has taken a decision to bring the vessel to Trinidad immediately.”
The decision was made after the vessel’s seller, Sea Transport Corporation of Australia, was unable to complete retrofitting work in Cuba. The purchase agreement for the US$17.4 million catamaran involved separate upgrade works to be done by the seller (Sea Transport) and the buyer, the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco).
Imbert explained that the seller made a contractual arrangement with the Damex Shipyard in Cuba to do work there on the Galleons Passage. Nidco had a separate contract with this shipyard to do its upgrade on the vessel. The Government was recently informed by the seller it could not bring some equipment and materials from Australia to Cuba to complete its work on Galleons Passage. This, Imbert said, was because Cuba is still an embargoed nation for many countries which did not make it easy for Cuba to receive shipments from nations like Australia.
As a result, Imbert said the Galleons Passage will be brought to T&T and, “be put into service very soon.” Any outstanding enhancement work to be done on the vessel will be done in T&T on a phased basis. Imbert said this will happen, “while the boat is transporting passengers to and from Tobago.”
He dismissed Opposition claims that the vessel is not classified, saying that “The vessel was classified by Lloyd’s of London in its original condition as being suitable for coastal transport of passengers and cargo. The vessel is already classified.”
Imbert added that, “The enhancement works to be done on the vessel are simply to make the vessel more comfortable for the people of T&T” and reiterated that some retrofitting was done on the Galleons Passage in Cuba.
Later in the sitting, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the cost of dry docking the TT Spirit was US$10,199,000. The repair and maintenance cost for the Express is US$807,117. Sinanan said the Spirit, which is now back on the seabridge, did not sail from May 15 2017 to April 16 this year.
On June 14, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said the Government has received proposals for vessels from Australian shipbuilders Incat and Austal. Incat’s proposal is for two fast ferries. The Austal proposal is for two fast ferries and a Cape Class patrol boat for the Coast Guard. These proposals arose from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s working visit to Australia last month.
Incat and Austal representatives will be invited within the next two weeks, after an evaluation committee has studied their proposals. “We want to proceed with those vessels as quickly as possible,” Young said.