The government of Trinidad
& Tobago has purchased its second Incat Wave Piercing Catamaran in as many months.
The former US Army Theatre Support Vessel Spearhead (Hull 060) has been purchased from its Delaware, United States based Owners, Bollinger / Incat LLC
. To that end the four-year-old fast ferry, to be renamed T&T Spirit, is currently being refitted for passenger service after a well documented career with the US Army. When she emerges from her refit at Incat’s Hobart shipyard T&T Spirit will be sporting a new white hull along with the Trinidad & Tobago national colours of red, white and black on its sides.
Recently, the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) purchased the Incat 91 metre Wave Piercing Catamaran The Lynx in a $21m 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 colours of 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’s Wave Piercing Catamaran technology revolutionised the Trinidad & Tobago seabridge in January 2005, when after three years of investigating tonnage options, the PATT chartered Bay Ferries’ Incat 98 metre 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 she 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, and as a result doubles the passenger and vehicle capacity on the seabridge. Both ferries make their return voyage in the late afternoon giving travellers a full day in either island.