One of two new ferries ready for action


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ST. THOMAS - The territory is half-way there to getting its two new ferries running.

U.S. Coast Guard inspections are complete for one of the ferries, the Cruz Bay I, while the other is awaiting its inspections, which are scheduled for Wednesday, according to Ricardo Castrodad, regional spokesman for the Coast Guard.

Castrodad could not say how long the inspections for the other ferry, the Red Hook I, would take, nor exactly what the inspections entail.

The inspections have been holding up the finalization of management contracts between the V.I. government and the franchise operators, Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services, which run the current ferry operations between Red Hook on St. Thomas and Cruz Bay on St. John. The boats will be the property of the government, though they will be operated by the franchises.

The ferries, 84-foot aluminum catamarans that are able to carry 204 passengers each, currently are in the possession of the V.I. Department of Public Works. They must pass inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard before they function in the territory, though they already passed inspections before they were transported from Louisiana.

The ferries were built by the Louisiana-based Midship Marine Inc. for $7.6 million. Their construction was funded by federal dollars from two separate U.S. Transportation Department earmarks.

V.I. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls could not be reached for comment Monday or Friday, nor could Kendrick Augustus, general manager of Transportation Services, and Delrise Varlack, general manager of Varlack Ventures. The new ferries were supposed to be in operation by the end of 2013. Neither is yet in service, and there is no word on when the ferries will be in service.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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