Saturday 20 July, 2019

Sinanan: Jean de la Valette to sail in two weeks

With all certifications completed, the Jean de la Valette (JDLV) could make its first commercial sailing in as little as two weeks.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the 10-year-old Maltese ferry owned and leased by Virtu Ferries can comfortably run at 38 knotts dependent on sea conditions and can sail to Tobago in approximately two and a half hours.

He said while a sea trial was still needed to establish the exact length of the trip, this would be one of the fastest vessels we have had in T&T in a while.

“My information is all the certification has been completed, and what we are doing now is familiarising the local staff with the vessel. So we are looking at the weekend of the 15th for the first commercial sailing.”

Describing the JDLV as “fantastic” following a tour of the vessel on Friday, Sinanan noted that the ferry is outfitted to handle T&T’s waters, especially in the vicinity of the Bocas. He even described the vessel as an upgrade to the Galleons Passage.

Giving an update on two ferries ordered by Government from manufacturers Austal and Incat, he assured that the vessels are on the slot for manufacturing and provided that all goes well, these vessels can be expected to arrive in the country in the latter part of 2020.

“I give you the assurance that the next two vessels that are coming are slightly larger than this and they are custom built for our waters,” Sinanan added.

Assuring the efficient running of the seabridge, the Minister said Government will make sure it is not back to normal, but better than ever.

“The Government did promise to have the seabridge sorted out, brought back to some level of normalcy and to improve the seabridge going forward.

Phase one was the Galleons Passage and to get that back to a stable situation. Phase two was the leasing of a vessel for a one-year period with the option for a further six months if required and the purchase of two brand new vessels custom built for our purpose.

Phase three has started where both vessels are now being manufactured.

So, the Government would have done everything that can be humanly possible to ensure we have a running seabridge,” he said.

Slamming a recent bomb scare at the Port of Scarborough which saw delays in the sailings of vessels between Trinidad and Tobago, the Minister stressed the importance of ensuring that the people of Tobago are properly serviced.

“We will look at the numbers and whatever is required, the Government is committed to ensuring that we satisfy the needs of the travelling public.”

“If there is a need for excess capacity, we will run the vessels,” he added.

The vessel will sail as often as required but must be rested for at least one day in the week.

The JDLV will service the seabridge just in time for the July/August vacation allowing the T&T Spirit to go on drydock for maintenance.

The vessel is licensed for 800 passengers, but has seating capacity of over 1000. It can accommodate 156 vehicles including trucks and to some extent, containers.

Sinanan noted that the vessel also has the facilities to load and unload trucks.

It will cost Government around TT $271,000 per day to lease the vessel.

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