PROPOSALS for Australian shipbuilders Austal and Incat to provide vessels for TT have been submitted to Cabinet within the two-week time frame which Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley outlined last month.
However the date on when the passenger ferry Galleons Passage will arrive to begin operations on the seabridge, remains a mystery. Addressing the post-Cabinet news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, on Thursday, Young disclosed Cabinet received the Austal and Incat proposals.
“The answer is yes. In fact, I will say it here. I have not been able to tell the Prime Minister. He knows that we have received the first proposal from Austal.” Young added an Austal team was in TT inspecting four water taxis and six fast patrol boats which Austal manufactured. Of these vessels, Young said all need work to be done, “from a maintenance point of view and some of them to them seaworthy again, in particular the Coast Guard vessels.”
While the Austal team was in TT, Young said Cabinet received comprehensive proposals from Austal for the provision of fast ferries and a Cape Class patrol boat. “Incat has this morning (Thursday), at 2.30 this morning, sent through to us their proposal, “ he disclosed. After noting Australia is 14 hours ahead of TT, Young said Cabinet is setting up a committee to evaluate these proposals. Incat and Austal representatives will be invited within the next two weeks, after the evaluation committee has studied their proposals. “We want to proceed with those vessels as quickly as possible.
Young said he toured a Cape Class vessel when he accompanied Rowley on a working visit to Australia last month. He explained this vessel is not an offshore patrol vessel (OPV) because it does not have helicopter capability. Reiterating the People’s National Movement’s criticism of the former People’s Partnership’s government’s decision to scrap the OPV initiative, Young said Defence Force Chief of Staff, Commodore Hayden Pritchard has been asked to see the two OPVs intended for TT, which are now operating as part of the Brazilian Navy. Pritchard, who was part of Rowley’s delegation to China and Australia in May, is scheduled to attend a conference in Brazil at the end of June.
Young reiterated the OPVs would have bolstered TT’s border security. On the Galleons Passage’s arrival, Young said he had no personal idea about the exact date. He said Cabinet has instructed the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) to ensure the vessel is here, “servicing the seabridge as quickly as possible.” Young said he was unable to get an update from Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan, before Sinanan left the Cabinet meeting to attend the Senate.
Young said he was aware some of the work on Galleons Passage, involved ensuring proper coverage for vehicles on the vessel. Some other works, Young added, did not needed to be done in Cuba and could be done here.
In a statement earlier this month, Nidco said the Galleons Passage was delayed in Cuba because of retrofitting works.