Fast ferry APT James now scheduled to arrive in January


The new fast ferry APT James after it was commissioned by Austal in Vietnam. – Photo courtesy Nidco

The anticipated end-of-year gift of a new fast ferry to service the inter-island route from Port of Spain to Scarborough has hit a snag and is now expected to arrive in the first week of the new year.

The National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) which purchased the vessel on behalf of the government announced on Saturday that the unavailability to refuel at the last scheduled stop at Cape Verde before sailing across the Atlantic Ocean caused the unexpected delay.

Bunkering services were unavailable owing to the Christmas holidays, Nidco stated and an alternative stop had been made at Las Palmas, Canary Islands to refuel before the vessel embarks on its voyage to TT.

Nidco said once there was good weather the vessel is expected to arrive by the first week of January.

The vessel, named APT James, in honour of the late Alphonso Philbert Theophilus James, a famed rights activist of Black Rock, Tobago who was elected to the Legislative Council in 1946.

It is one of two vessels purchased by the state in a government-to-government deal with the Australian government. The other vessel named after the famous Buccoo Reef of Tobago has been commissioned in Tasmania, Australia by shipbuilder Incat in early October and is expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2021.

The APT James was constructed in Vietnam by shipbuilders Austal and has the capacity to carry 926 passengers and 250 vehicles.

The upper deck is divided into a first-class section for 132 people and a separate economy section for the remaining passengers.

The vessel set sail from Vietnam on November 12 and arrived at Port of Galle in Sri Lanka six days later to refuel. It then journeyed to the Republic of Djibouti, in East Africa on November 25 to refuel and arrived at Suez Canal, Egypt three days later.

A look at the passenger seating in the new fast ferry APT James. – Photo courtesy Baird Maritime

The ferry had to make an unscheduled stop at Port Valletta, Malta on December 2 where it remained docked for several days owning to bad weather in the Mediterranean Sea, according to Nidco and arrived at the Port of Algecrias, Spain on December 18 before sailing to Las Palmas, Canary Islands on Christmas Day.

Nidco had stated that each of the five refuelling stops should have taken at least one day stay in the respective ports.

The last leg of the journey, an estimated 2,900 nautical miles, is final sailing in the 11,572 nautical miles away from Vietnam, halfway across the globe.

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