The Ocean Flower 2, whose contract for the sea bridge was terminated on August 8 for non-compliance, is returning as the preferred vessel to ease the woes of travelers.
Inside sources at the Port Authority say that the Ocean Flower 2 is ahead of the other ten bidders who tendered for a second time for the sea bridge contract. The return of the Ocean Flower 2 comes despite comments within the last two months from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and line Minister, Rohan Sinanan.
Insiders say that the Ocean Flower 2 is ahead of its rivals as the vessel is on dry dock at Caridock in Chaguaramas being outfitted to service the sea bridge.
Port officials have remained tight lipped over this, saying no decision had been taken. But inside sources say that some members of the tenders committee had “looked at” the bids, and although the Ocean Flower 2 had been terminated before, the vessel has an advantage over the others as it is in Trinidad and could be put into operation with immediate effect.
Some members have recommended the Ocean Flower 2 be chosen as the vessel “is here and ready.”
TTWhistleblower was directed to Sinanan to answer the question as to whether the Ocean Flower 2 will be named as the sea bridge provider.
Although the contract was terminated on August 8, the Ocean Flower 2 sailed from Panama to Trinidad, arriving on September 19.
A team of engineers have been installing what is known as T-dash foils, which is a stabilizer to ensure passage between the sea bridge especially in the area of the Bocas does not affect passengers.
The Ocean Flower 2 is owned by Bridgemans Services Limited, with registered offices in Vancouver, Canada.
When Bridgeman Services were previously awarded the contract to provide the passenger ferry Ocean Flower 2 to service the sea bridge one of the requests made to Bridgeman Services was that the T-foils be installed on the Ocean Flower 2.
Inside sources said the mere fact that the T-foils were being installed on the vessel, means that Bridgemans, which was one of the companies which bid for the opportunity to service the sea bridge on September 20, is hoping they win the bid and the vessel is ready and prepared to service the sea bridge.
Bridgemans’ vice president, Andrew Purdey, confirmed they had issued a fully compliant bid proposal in alignment with the tender offer and the vessel offered was the Ocean Flower 2.
The Ocean Flower 2 contract was cancelled on August 8 after it failed to meet three deadlines (July 17, 26 and August 1) for arrival here, then at a lease cost of US$26,500 daily. Purdey admitted the cancellation was in keeping with the exit clause of the contract which dealt with late arrival. He said then, however, that the vessel had suffered catastrophic engine failure, losing a bearing and a piston on its journey from Korea to the Caribbean. When the vessel got to Panama, Purdey said they did work from head to toe.
Purdey said the vessel was now fully certified and ready for service and confirmed the company was in possession of an irrevocable standby letter of credit in the amount of US$3 million which is contained in the Charter Party Agreement with the Port Authority.
He said the stand-by letter of credit was not cancelled when the Port Authority cancelled the Ocean Flower 2 contract. Purdey could shed no light on why the letter of credit was not cancelled or whether the Port Authority was bound to accept the Ocean Flower 2, saying this is all under discussion with the client and only they can comment.
But on August 21 following a meeting with stakeholders in Tobago, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had made it clear the Government was not interested in the Ocean Flower 2 when told reporters were that the vessel was still reportedly coming to Trinidad.
Rowley said, “As far as I am aware, the Port Authority, advising the Government, the Ministry, has advised the principals of that boat that their contractual arrangements have ceased. The owners are free to travel with their boat on any ocean they wish, but coming to Trinidad and Tobago, the contractual arrangements have been terminated for cause.”
Purdey insisted that this was a pre-planned dry-docking to install the T-Foil’s following its re-positioning from Asia. He said while the vessel is ready for service, installation of the T-Foils would improve ship ride performance and speed.
Bridgemans has supplied another vessel, the Cabo Star, which is operating the sea bridge at this time.