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