Incat Australia announced that the fast ferry, ‘The Cat’, has been Time Chartered by Bay Ferries of Canada to the Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago. ‘The Cat’, which operates on the 85 nautical mile route between Port of Spain and Scarborough, entered commercial service on the January 10.
After more than three years of investigating tonnage options, involving the Tobago House of Assembly, the Port Authority of Trinidad & Tobago, the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Government Shipping Service and several technical sub committees, the charter was signed with Bay Ferries in late December 2004.
In announcing the service, Hon. Franklin Khan, the Minister of Works and Transport said “As we enter the New Year
, the (Tobago sea bridge) service will be extremely efficient and effective”. He continued declaring "’The Cat’ would be able to make the trip from Trinidad to Tobago in two and a half hours", inferring a journey time saving of at least 50% when compared to conventional ferries.
‘The Cat’ is an Incat 98 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran capable of carrying up to 900 persons, 260 cars or a combination of cars, buses and trucks. The Cat can operate, loaded and in commercial service, at speeds up to 40 knots. The high speed ship was built at the Incat shipyard in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
The Cat’s impressive turn of speed has been demonstrated on all sailings this week and previous transit time records have been smashed. On several journeys crossing times have been as short as 2 hours 15 minutes.
On a dedicated voyage for 650 VIP’s on January 9, the Australian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago, His Excellency John Michell, who travelled on board, described ‘The Cat’ as “a highly visible example of Australian technological and engineering sophistication that goes to emphasise Australia's capacity as a provider of high technology goods and services”.
The Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, Orville London, who has played a key role in promoting the concept of a modern fast ferry service, commented, ‘The Cat’ would help to ease many of the problems experienced on the inter-island route.
Noel Garcia, Chairman of the Port Authority, summed up most opinions in Trinidad & Tobago this week when declared he was very pleased with the new service.
Throughout the Charter period ‘The Cat’ will be based in Scarborough, Tobago and whilst in the first few weeks of commercial service it will operate one return crossing per day, from late January, in anticipation of the world famous Trinidad & Tobago Carnival, the vessel will operate two return crossings. The vessel will operate until the end of May when it is scheduled to return to Canada for summer operations between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Bar Harbour, Maine