New V.I. ferries being tested
Published: October 22, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Local transportation officials are in Louisiana testing out the territory's two new ferryboats.
V.I. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls went out on the first boat's sea trial Monday and was scheduled to go out on the second boat today.
A sea trial is the testing phase of ship-building, designed to test a vessel's sea-worthiness.
Smalls was joined in Louisiana by officials from Transportation Services and Varlack Ventures, the government franchise holders for ferry service between St. Thomas and St. John.
Of the two new vessels, one will be given to Transportation Services to operate and the other will be given to Varlack Ventures.
"We all experienced a ride, it was truly an exciting day for each and every one of us," Smalls said.
Funded with $7.6 million in federal funds, the vessels are being built by Louisiana-based Midship Marine Inc.
The funding for the boats - $3.25 million for each - comes from a number of federal sources. Two different earmarks from the Transportation Department coupled with a $3 million federal stimulus grant provided the money to purchase the boats.
The company is building two 85-foot aluminum catamarans, each of which can carry about 250 passengers.
Smalls said Monday that the new boats are beautiful and loaded with state-of-the-art features.
"I know it will be a welcome addition to what's there right now," he said.
The existing ferryboats belong to Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services, but the two new boats will belong to the V.I. government and be operated by the franchisees.
The U.S. Coast Guard will have to inspect the vessels before they are sailed down to the territory.
Once in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the local Coast Guard also will make inspections and sign-off on the vessels before they enter rotation on the St. Thomas-St. John route.
"If everything goes well, we anticipate delivery to the territory within the next 30 days," Smalls said.
- Contact Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.