The Galleons Passage will now be able to hoist the Trinidad and Tobago colours, having been re-flagged from Vanuatu, but it is still not ready to sail the high seas.
The boat, which arrived on July 16, is yet to get its class certification from the Maritime Division, the local regulatory body that is supposed to give it the all clear before it can go into service on the inter-island seabridge.
In a brief interview with Sunday Newsday, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) was in the process of getting the documentation and working closely with the Maritime Division.
That said, he would not commit to giving a date when the boat would finally be put to work, saying only, “shortly.” The vessel has been docked at the Cruise Ship Complex since its arrival. On July 17, during a media tour, Sinanan had said he expected the boat to be put on the sea bridge “within the next two weeks”, helping to pick up the slack during the busy vacation period, since there is only one dedicated passenger vessel, the TT Spirit on duty.
The Cabo Star, which also runs the inter-island route, is a cargo vessel not registered for passengers.
One of the hold-ups for certification is because Lloyd’s Register, an international ship classification authority, still has not provided its revised gap analysis report, which the Maritime Division needs to use to do its safety audit.
A source at the Maritime Division told Sunday Newsday, “We cannot audit ourselves. We have started the evaluation process but Lloyd’s still hasn’t actually gone on the vessel.”
In a July 20 news conference, Nidco had said the initial Lloyd’s gap analysis in itself had gaps and had written Lloyd’s to amend it, accordingly.
Nidco had said in its letter that it had “discovered many material inaccuracies,” including instances where items listed as non-compliant should have been classified as “unable to verify,” since Lloyd’s did not have, nor did they request, additional information that would have proved the vessel met requirements. It requested Lloyd’s conduct an additional survey of the vessel.
The gap analysis was commissioned at the request of the Maritime Division to see how, if at all, the Galleons Passage fell short of local maritime regulations. The boat was built according to Australian standards, but TT adheres to the much stricter International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
Nidco did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Lloyd’s Register.