NIDCO: Work on Ferry continues in Cuba

According to the National Infrastructure Development Company, the Galleons Passage will not be sailing to this country immediately, but will remain in Cuba to allow remedial work which the seller agreed to complete, with an estimated departure date of July 10 from Cuba.

Those works were identified as: the sealing of the gap between the ramp door and the hull of the vessel, fabrication and installation of the framing for the forward canopy on the vehicle deck, to protect against sea spray and installation of additional anchor rings to secure vehicles on the vehicle deck.

Nidco said those works were “specified in the Memorandum of Agreement, between Nidco and Sealease Limited of Hong Kong (the seller), to better equip the vessel for use on the seabridge.”

Nidco said the works being done are the “contractual responsibility of the seller,” and “all associated costs” are being borne by the seller.

On completion Nidco said the works will be “surveyed by the Classification Society’s surveyor, Lloyd’s Register, prior to the vessel’s departure from Cuba.”

Nidco said on its arrival in Trinidad, the owner’s proposed enhancements will be done on a phased basis, while the vessel is in service.

These enhancements include the installation of full canopies over the sundeck, installing and outfitting additional male and female washroom facilities on the sundeck, installing café/bar facilities on the starboard and port side of the sundeck, remodelling of urinals in the men’s washroom and removal of the existing trough urinals provided, and installing of fixing rails for new seating on the passenger deck, with the existing bench seating to be replaced with Beurteaux passenger contoured seats.

The Ferry should be in use between Trinidad and Tobago in time for the height of the July/August vacation provided there are no further keep backs, Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said on Saturday.

Sinanan told the media: “Nidco said they should complete everything by July 10. It is just four days from Cuba to Trinidad. I can’t say what day the boat will be here but what I can say is when what is being done there is completed, it will not take more than four days to come to Trinidad.”

He added that Nidco was working with the director of maritime services to get the boat in use as soon as possible after arriving. Asked about concerns that there were undue delays owing to a failure by Nidco to send the necessary documentation to ports where the vessel docked en route to Cuba, Sinanan said the delays were not as a result of that. He added the docking at the ports in Miami and Panama was hampered only by the number of ships queued and not because of any man-made errors.

Nidco indicated that all requirements needed for the Galleons Passage to dock at ports en route to TT were handled by the vessel operator, International Maritime Services Pty Ltd (IMS), which specialises in transporting large vessels worldwide. Nidco added that all arrangements for requisite documents for docking were part of its contract with IMS to deliver the vessel to TT. Nidco also said there were no additional costs as a result of the delays and all associated costs for port docking were included in the contract fee with IMS.

The Government decided to bring the vessel to TT after Sea Transport Corporation of Australia, had difficulties in getting equipment to Cuba to complete the retrofitting works. “Any shipment coming from Australia would have to be offloaded in another port and transshipped, most likely more than once. That’s the problem. The seller reported that it was proving to be very difficult to find a way to ship the materials to Cuba, because it’s not a direct route and the US embargo was complicating the issue,” Imbert said.

He added: “It was a contractual responsibility of the seller to install a bow spray canopy to minimise spray during heavy or very choppy weather. He chose to to this work at the Damex shipyard. As part of the contract, we retained a significant sum as retention until this work is completed. So the seller has not yet been paid in full. We were very careful about this transaction, as you will appreciate. The work in Cuba was just taking too long, so we exercised our right to tell him to do the work in Trinidad.”

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