New ferry once outran pirates

This coun­try’s lat­est fast fer­ry, the HSC Jean de la Valette, once out­ran some pi­rate ships, a de­scrip­tion from the Ship Tech­nol­o­gy web­site has claimed.

And cit­i­zens of T&T were on Wednes­day giv­en a glimpse of the ves­sels speed af­ter it com­plet­ed its jour­ney from Cadiz, Spain five days ahead of the sched­uled ar­rival time.

But the Jean de la Valette’s speed was not the main fea­ture that had peo­ple on so­cial me­dia in awe yes­ter­day.

Pho­tographs of the Jean de la Valette’s in­te­ri­or went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia yes­ter­day hours af­ter the ves­sel docked in Trinidad.

The Jean de la Valette sailed in­to the Port of Port-of-Spain short­ly af­ter 8 am yes­ter­day af­ter com­plet­ing its jour­ney from Cadiz, Spain. Ac­cord­ing to one ship track­ing ser­vice, the ves­sel had been sched­uled to ar­rive at 11 pm last night.

The Jean de la Valette set sail from Spain last Fri­day and was es­ti­mat­ed to ar­rive in Trinidad wa­ters ten days lat­er.

The voy­age be­tween Spain and Trinidad in­clud­ed one bunker­ing stop in Cape Verde, Africa.

A state­ment from NID­CO yes­ter­day said the ves­sel will un­der­go a rou­tine in­spec­tion as well as clear­an­ce by Cus­toms and Ex­cise.

The process of ac­quir­ing rel­e­vant ap­provals and train­ing of lo­cal staff as re­quired for the ves­sel’s op­er­a­tion in the in­ter-is­land ser­vice be­tween Trinidad and To­ba­go will sub­se­quent­ly com­mence, NID­CO stat­ed.

NID­CO post­ed a Face­book Live video show­ing the ves­sel dock­ing in­to the port and al­so shared im­ages of its ex­te­ri­or.

Pho­tos shared on Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley Face­book page yes­ter­day showed pho­tographs of the ves­sel’s in­te­ri­or with the ti­tle “Bridg­ing the gap be­tween Trinidad and To­ba­go”.

“The Jean de la Valette is here and will join the Galleons Pas­sage in ser­vic­ing the in­ter-is­land seabridge.

The ves­sel will be leased for one year af­ter which we are ex­pect­ed to re­ceive the first of two fer­ries cur­rent­ly un­der con­struc­tion in Aus­tralia,” the post on the Prime Min­is­ter’s page stat­ed.

Min­is­ter of State in the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter and Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for To­ba­go East Ayan­na Web­ster-Roy used her Face­book page to call on pas­sen­gers to care for the ves­sel.

“This is beau­ti­ful! Pas­sen­gers please, please, please take care of it!” she post­ed.

The ves­sel, which was built April 2009, is be­ing leased at a cost of 34,500 Eu­ros or TT$263,580 per day, was sourced from Mal­ta and leased from Vir­tu Fer­ries.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Vir­tu, Fran­cis Portel­li, is in­volved in a huge oil scan­dal in Mal­ta, with al­le­ga­tions of mon­ey laun­der­ing and bribery still hang­ing over his head.

Portel­li is cur­rent­ly fac­ing charges of bribery in a case con­nect­ed to the 2013 En­e­mal­ta oil scan­dal which is con­sid­ered one of Mal­ta’s most promi­nent cas­es.

Works and Trans­port min­is­ter Ro­han Sinanan de­fend­ed the Gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to lease the ves­sel.

De­signed by Austal, Jean de la Valette is ca­pa­ble of ship­ping 156 cars, or 45 cars and 342m of truck lanes.

The ves­sel can ac­com­mo­date 800 pas­sen­gers and 24 crew mem­bers. It is de­signed to op­er­ate at a speed of 38.5 knots.

Over 110 pas­sen­gers can be ac­com­mo­dat­ed with out­door seat­ing and the ves­sel al­so has a ded­i­cat­ed up­per deck lounge area.

“The Jean de la Valette is a new high-speed, all-weath­er pas­sen­ger cata­ma­ran fer­ry owned by Vir­tu Fer­ries. Launched in April 2010, it is claimed to be the largest ves­sel of its kind op­er­at­ing in the Mediter­ranean. The ves­sel has been built to han­dle the in­creased car­go and pas­sen­ger traf­fic be­tween Mal­ta and Italy,” a de­scrip­tion on the Ship Tech­nol­o­gy web­site stat­ed.

“Dur­ing its de­liv­ery trip from Aus­tralia to Mal­ta in Sep­tem­ber 2010, the ves­sel man­aged to out­run pi­rates.

Vir­tu Fer­ries re­port­ed that the in­ci­dent oc­curred when the ves­sel en­tered the Red Sea through Bab El Man­deb. Pi­rate skiffs tried to chase, but gave up due to the high speed of the ves­sel,” the web­site stat­ed.

Reporter: Joel Julien

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