APT James first official trip in 2 weeks

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The new Tobago fast ferry, the APT James, arriving at the Cruise Ship Complex in Port of Spain. – SUREASH CHOLAI

The APT James will begin operations in about two weeks, after its crew undergoes quarantine, after travelling for 30 days at sea from Australia.

Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan told reporters as the ferry made its way to the Port of Spain Port that he hopes, however, the ship will go into service before the Jean de Valette leaves TT.

“The contract for the Jean de Valette expires at the end of January, so we are hoping that within the next couple weeks, before that vessel leaves, that the APT James will be en route to Tobago.”

Coming along with the ship – an Austal Auto Express catamaran – is an international management crew, who were contracted to make up part of the staff on the APT James and the Buccoo Reef, which is expected to arrive sometime in February. That crew will also assist with the maintenance of the vessel.

“So we are hoping that the maintenance issue we were plagued with is something of the past,” Sinanan said.

On concerns raised by members of the opposition, who claimed the vessel lacked proper certification and documents, fire safety equipment and proper access to vital areas, Sinnanan said the person who brought those issues up “didn’t know much about boats.

The APT James Vessel passed through Scarborough’s Port last Friday before heading to Trinidad – David Reid

“When the vessel went into Malta there were some minor things that were identified. Those things were rectified even before it left Malta. It had nothing to do with the stability of the vessel.

“We heard a lot of talk about a fire detector. It had nothing to do with the fire system. It is a canister that you use to trigger the fire alarm for a test.”

Sinanan added the vessel, along with the Buccoo Reef, will improve TT’s capacity to transport people across the seabridge by more than 900 passengers and would have the capacity to transport about 500 cars, and still have enough power to make the voyage in two and a half hours.

But he said the ships cost a lot to maintain, so they will be used according to the demand for seats.

“What we have taken a decision for is, once there is a demand for the seating, we will have the capacity. If there is no demand, then we will only have two vessels operating. Now we have four vessels and a significant amount of capacity.”

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