THE TT Spirit is expected to return to service at the end of February, Port Authority (PATT) chairman Alison Lewis has said, after which the TT Express will finally be drydocked.
The Spirit, which is 20 years old, has been drydocked since June 2017; since then, the 22-year-old TT Express, which is overdue for drydocking, has been the only vessel servicing the inter island seabridge.
The Express had most recently been grounded for over a week, including the busy Carnival weekend, because of rough seas and an expired classification licence – an international certificate of seaworthiness. The licence has since been extended until March 12, but after that, the vessel must be drydocked.
The boat returned to service on Saturday, but is expected to be grounded again temporarily on Tuesday because of rough seas. There is no word yet on how displaced passengers will be accommodated, but the port has recently contracted Caribbean Airlines Ltd, which operates the airbridge, to transport passengers. Those travelling with vehicles had been accommodated on the designated cargo ship, the Cabo Star.
For a short period, though, the beleaguered seabridge will have two vessels running the route. Lewis noted that she had no estimate how long the Express will be on drydock, nor who will be the agents doing the boat’s refurbishment work. There will be a tender out for drydocking services, she said, but could not say when.
Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan noted that previous port policies fell short on maintenance programmes, including drydocking and replacement schedules, but it is something the new board is attempting to put in place. Once the Galleons Passage, currently stuck in China until Lunar New Year celebrations end, gets to TT—ideally by the end of April— there will be three boats servicing the seabridge, Sinanan added.