New ferries delayed, Jean de la Valette lease extended

The Jean de la Valette. -
The Jean de la Valette. -

The first of two Cape class patrol boats for the Coast Guard should arrive in October, Minister of National Security Stuart Young said in a virtual press conference on Thursday.

The delivery of the two new fast ferries has been delayed, Young said, while responding to a question on the impact on the delivery of the vessels of covid19.

He said Defence Force officers are in Australia providing feedback on the progress of the patrol boats. They reported this week that the patrol vessels are going according to plan, Young said.

The patrol boats, along with two fast ferries from Australian shipbuilders Austal and Incat, were supposed to be delivered in mid-2020.

The minister could not give a date as to when the new ferries will be delivered, but said the first should arrive between the end of June and the beginning of the third quarter.

“They continue to be around the same estimated date of delivery as before, There may have been a falloff of a few weeks amid covid19 and some wildfires in Australia last year.”

Young went to Australia with the Prime Minister on the invitation of the Australian government two years ago and the agreement for the vessels was made.

The four vessels are being built from scratch.

“I got great footage of the boats being built down in Australia and they are progressing well,” Young said.

Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan told Newsday Cabinet has extended to lease of the Jean de la Valette and in the event of another delay, the inter-island service will not be disrupted.

He said, “We have three vessels and these have a lot of capacity. Cabinet has already approved the extension of the Jean de la Valette and this should last until the new vessel arrives. In the contract, there was the option to renew an additional six months, and that is what we did.”

That vessel arrived on June 19, 2019.

There are no issues on the seabridge and he said he doesn’t anticipate any difficulties in the future.

“We will ensure there are no disruptions on the seabridge,” Sinanan said.

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