Weather delays sea trials for new ferries to run between St. Thomas and St. John
Published: October 14, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Stormy weather in the Gulf of Mexico has postponed the sea trial of two new ferry boats for the territory.
A sea trial is the testing phase of shipbuilding, designed to test a vessel's sea worthiness.
"It's the last step," Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said.
The two ferryboats will run between St. Thomas and St. John.
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.
The existing ferryboats belong to the two government franchisees - Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services - but the two new boats will belong to the V.I. government.
According to a news release sent by the V.I. Public Services Commission, Hurricane Karen threatened the Louisiana and Florida coast, forcing Midship Marine to cancel the sea trials.
Smalls said the trials will be conducted this weekend. The 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.
Smalls said the Coast Guard inspections may be impacted by the current federal shutdown, but he does not foresee any more significant delays. The ferries are expected to be delivered to the territory by the end of the year.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.