February 1, 2007
Incat TSV leaves Army for new civilian role
The former U.S. Army Theater Support Vessel Spearhead (Incat Hull 060) is to have a civilian career. But, contrary to earlier reports, the new owner is not Norway's Master Ferries AS. The Incat Wave Piercing Catamaran has been purchased from Bollinger/Incat LLC by the government of Trinidad & Tobago.
The four-year-old 97.22 m fast ferry is to be renamed T&T Spirit and is currently being refitted for passenger service after a well documented career with the U.S. Army.
When it emerges from its refit at Incat's Hobart, Tasmania, shipyard T&T Spirit will be sporting new white hull livery, with the Trinidad & Tobago national colors of red, white and black on its sides.
Acquisition of the fast ferry follows the recent purchase by, the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) of the Incat 91 m wave piercer The Lynx in a US$21 million deal with Australian owner Allco Finance Group. Renamed T&T Express, the ferry, which was once well known for its eye catching black Devil Cat livery, has also been painted with the national colors of Trinidad & Tobago.
Trinidad & Tobago Works and Transport Minister Colm Imbert said that the Cabinet had decided to purchase the two fast ferries instead of leasing them, resulting in projected savings over a ten year period of TT$200 million on T&T Express and TT$100 million on T&T Spirit.
Incat Chairman Robert Clifford comments, "Almost five years ago the Port Authority and the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago started to develop a vision for the national seabridge based on identifying and then implementing world's best practice in the ferry industry. From the outset demanding benchmarks for proven year round in service reliability, high levels of passenger comfort, low operating costs and the ability to carry heavy freight were established.
"With the permanent acquisition of T&T Express and T&T Spirit, these benchmarks have been exceeded and let there be no doubt, the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago has emerged as a significant player in the global ferry market, offering a world class fast ferry service," Mr Clifford said.
In January 2005, when after three years of investigating tonnage options, the PATT chartered Bay Ferries' Incat 98 m The Cat (Hull 059). This vessel entered commercial service on the 85 nautical mile route between Port of Spain and Scarborough and since then, by operating in the Caribbean during the off peak season of its core Canadian operation, The Cat has been instrumental in demonstrating the suitability of Incat Wave Piercing Catamarans on this demanding service.
Immediately upon entering service The Cat, operating at speeds of approximately 40 knots, slashed crossing times in half to two hours and fifteen minutes and for the first time the nation's seabridge became a reliable and predictable transportation alternative to air travel. The craft quickly became the transport of choice and with capacity for 900 persons and up to 267 cars successfully responded to the major challenge of catering for 10,000 passengers over the Carnival period.
The T&T Express is currently operating along with The Cat, which remains on seasonal charter on the crossing until April Both ferries make their return voyage in the late afternoon giving travelers a full day in either island.