Nidco head: Don't ask for constant updates on new ferry

Nidco chairman Herbert George. 
Nidco chairman Herbert George. PHOTO COURTESY THA -

THERE is no set date yet for the second departure of the new Buccoo Reef vessel from Australia, where it had to return shortly after setting sail for Trinidad and Tobago last week.

National Infrastructure Development Co Ltd (Nidco) chairman Herbert George told Newsday this is because every effort is being made to ensure no further alarms are raised on the new vessel.

He said the crew responsible for repairing the vessel would have taken longer than usual to restart work on it because of travel restrictions caused by covid19.

But he said people should not expect constant updates about it, especially since the seabridge is still being serviced.

George said, "We have chosen to give press releases at critical times. We told the public that the vessel was on its way, alarms came on, and the vessel was sent back to be checked.

"It has gone back to the builder. They have to check certain systems, mechanical, electronic (and such), so they will get on to the original equipment manager."

The 100-metre-long seabridge ferry, which is costing US$73 million, left Hobart, Australia, last week, but had to turn round after sailing 398 nautical miles when an alarm went off.

George said the public will be notified of its status but will not be given a "ball-by-ball" report every time something on the vessel is repaired.

"All I can tell you is that it's being done, and we here, we are insisting that it is properly done by the original manufacturers."

Although he did not specify the exact nature of the problem or problems, George said if the issue involves the engine, and the manufacturer and service people are German, they would have to travel a considerable distance to the vessel.

"Given the covid situation, the movement of people isn't as free as it was in the past," he said. "As soon as we get through, we will notify the public.

"We spoke about alarms, and usually what happens (with) these modern-day vessels, they have all these systems. All the systems are tied in by electronic management. So the captain and so sees everything that happens on the vessel electronically.

"Sometimes the motherboard...that has a defect. So it will take you a while to troubleshoot and to find it, and then you get suppliers to issue a new board."

He is hoping the Buccoo Reef will depart Australia again for TT "by the end of the week," but said there was no particular rush, partly because Nidco wants to avoid panic raised by "rumour-mongers," which he said happened with the Galleons Passage.

As he recalled it, "Remember the Galleons Passage came, we had one thing being repaired. People went up and down, going as far as to say, 'We don't want that boat. That boat going and kill people.' And that was the foolishness that was spread."

In the case of the Buccoo Reef, he said, "What I can say is that all these repairs are being done under the warranty. So it is not costing us any more. What we are doing is insisting that whatever we sign, whatever those alarms (are), the issues will be dealt with.

"At the end of the day, it will be tested and then the vessel will review its journey. And luckily, the public is not being disadvantaged at this time. The route is well served. We have the TT Spirit, APT James and the Galleons Passage. We have all those."


"Nidco head: Don’t ask for constant updates on new ferry"

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