UNC calls for forensic investigation into Galleons Passage

The United National Congress says new findings by an independent marine surveyor have revealed 38 defects in the Galleons Passage, which is yet to arrive in Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking at a press conference held on Sunday 15th July, 2018, Opposition Senator Wade Mark said this latest report raises more safety concerns about the vessel, and called for an immediate forensic investigation into the procurement of the ferry.

“The first point on this vessel is that we have received reliable information that the Galleons Passage is currently adrift off Venezuela as it has run out of fuel, and a barge has been deployed to replenish fuel,” Senator Mark said.

The Opposition Senator revealed that a report commissioned by a marine surveying company while the vessel was in Cuba – Tsunami Marine Ltd unearthed 38 defects. The report, signed by Mr Courteney Lange, a Naval architect and Director of Tsunami Marine Ltd listed several issues with the vessel, noting that:

“In general, the vessel was well appointed however there was a lack of approved drawings and documentation attesting to compliance with safety regulations for open sea passages particularly those which can be experienced on the north coast of Trinidad. Compliance with these standards must be considered paramount to passenger safety and should be adhered to. The vessel was also considered ideally suited for transits within the Gulf of Paria where proximity to support services are readily accessible.”

Senator Mark said, “This matter requires a forensic investigation, and the Prime Minister and his cabinet have a lot to answer for this con job.”

“What we are seeing from this report is that the Galleons Passage is nothing more than a glorified water taxi,” Senator Mark charged. “The Opposition intends to write to the Integrity Commission on this matter.”

Senator Saddam Hosein, who also presented at the press conference, noted that only half of the retrofitting took place in Cuba, with the rest to be done in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I note the Minister of Finance has publicly stated that the Galleons Passage has received Category 1 status from Lloyds Register, but this is diametrically opposed to the findings of the Tsunami Marine Report, which identified 38 non-compliant requirements, inclusive of Lloyd’s specifications.

“I challenge the Government to go to Lloyds Register after the retrofitting is done and see if they will meet the requirements,” Senator Hosein stated.

Senator Hosein stated that the 38 defects fall into four categories: Stability, Passenger safety, Fire safety, Ship collision prevention.

The question must now be asked: on what basis was the Galleons Passage purchased by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, in light of the number of faults revealed by the marine surveyor.

“The failure to address these defects on this vessel is a travesty on the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” the Opposition Senator said. “I urge citizens not to travel on this boat, because they will be putting their lives at risk.”

After more than $100 million TT dollars has been spent on this vessel, and an additional $2.3 million on retrofitting, the Government must account to the people and assure their safety.