Galleons Passage to go into service next week

The Galleons Passage is finally in Trinidad and Tobago waters but it will be at least another week yet before the vessel, first announced to the country seven months ago, makes its first trip on the seabridge.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan told Guardian Media that the vessel will have to go through all the necessary customs and other clearances when it docks at the Port of Port-of-Spain.

Port Authority chairman Lyle Alexander told Guardian Media the Port was “still working” on the dredging for the Galleons Passage.

“The dredging is ongoing,” he said and the contractor, Polaris, is on site. It was the same contractor which did the ancillary work to install the piles to accommodate the vessel.

Alexander said it would be “difficult,” to put a date on when the dredging would be completed. “We should have started taking stuff out today, working continuously I would really have to say given weather conditions and everything else, we have to be realistic, I will have to say as soon as possible.”

The Port chairman did not anticipate any problems for the berthing of the Galleons Passage as a result of the work being done.

“It just it won’t be able to berth at its final berth until the dredging is complete until it is safe to do so,” he said.

Alexander said: “What we looking for is depth under the keel, where we are at right now based on the measurements that we have, we have to do a little clearing to enable the vessel to come all the way up to the quayside, so until that is done because, of course, it can’t be there while we are dredging. Until that time it will be down at the Cruise Ship Complex, so it really would not be a problem.”

Alexander could shed no light on whether the Galleons Passage will undergo the retrofitting works which were not done in Cuba before it begins service on the seabridge.

Neither could he say whether the crew for the vessel had been sourced, referring those questions to the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco).

Before the Galleons Passage can take up duties on the seabridge it as to be classed appropriately. That classification, Guardian Media was told, will be done by Lloyd’s Register, which is the class society for the vessel. Finance Minister Colm Imbert stated the vessel had received a Category 1 status from Lloyd’s Register, which is the highest international rating, via his Twitter account.

He also dismissed claims by UNC actvist Devant Maharaj that the vessel had stalled near Venezuela saying that the estimate time or arrival was 2 pm today.

Alexander said he is “looking forward with great anticipation to the Galleons Passage going online,” he said, “it will certainly be of benefit to the people who travel, every seat we can get on that line is welcome at this time,” he said.

The acquisition of the Galleons Passage by the Government was first announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in an address to the nation in early January. The vessel was originally due to arrive in the country at the end of April but experienced a number of delays and setbacks from the get-go. The departure from China in February was delayed because of Chinese New Year celebrations and along the route, it has faced a number of challenges including bad weather.

When it got to Cuba where the Government and the seller Sea Transport Limited agreed that retrofitting work would have been done, it was then announced that the necessary parts required for the retrofitting faced challenges because of an embargo against Cuba which was still in existence.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Rosemarie Sant)

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