Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley has announced that the Incat 91 wave piercing catamaran Incat 046, otherwise known by her marketing name “T&T Express” is to be sold.
The once distinctive craft, launched in 1997 in an allblack Tassie Devil livery, was sold to Trinidad & Tobago for USD 21 million in 2007. The craft has been taken out of service and rather than investing USD 7 - 10 million, the government has taken the decision to sell the ship, “as the market is ripe”. The government plans to order two new high-speed ferries to replace “T&T Express” and the 2002-built Incat 97m T&T Spirit by the end of 2020.
Following a visit to Australia, the Trinidad & Tobago government is negotiating a loan arrangement to build the two ships. As a stopgap solution, a high-speed vessel will be chartered to replace “T&T Express”. An advertisement was posted in a daily newspaper inviting applications for another fast ferry with the plan being to use a third fast ferry to service the islands under a two-year lease arrangement. The Prime Minister, meanwhile, told an audience in Tobago that they should not expect a fast ride on the Galleons Passage, the ferry, which having lain in Trinidad since July after a four-month journey from China via Cuba, was only slated to have her first trial run to Tobago during the last week of August. She is expected to take in excess of four hours to make the journey between Port-of-Spain and Scarborough.
The Galleons Passage was built by China’s Guangdong Bonny Fair Heavy Industry Ltd for service in Venezuela as the Dona Mercedes for operator Gran Cacique Express between the mainland port of Puerta La Cruz and the Island of Margarita. The buyers never took delivery and the Government of Trinidad & Tobago bought the vessel for US$ 17.4m, with an additional US$ 800,000 being spent on delivery costs from China to the Caribbean.