The Port Authority of T&T’s (PATT) Chief Engineer, Brendon Powder, ruled that the Ocean Flower II may not have been suitable to service the sea bridge between Trinidad and Tobago because of several mechanical issues and explosion risks identified during a sea trial he conducted in Panama.
Powder instead recommended that the vessel should remain in Colon Panama to urgently attend to all repairs prior to it sailing to Trinidad.
Powder and a team of PATT officials, including acting chief executive officer of the T&T Inter-Island Transportation Company Limited (TTIT) Leon Grant, visited Panama to inspect the Ocean Flower over the period July 30 to August 6.
According to the report summary, a sea trial of the vessel was conducted on August 5 but there was an hour delay in commencement due to bunkering and difficulty in getting all the engines operational. The trial was eventually completed on August 6. It was noted that president of Bridgeman’s Services Group Limited (BSG), Brian Grange, witnessed the sea trial and the mechanical issues with the vessel.
In a letter dated August 7, 2017, to the PATT’s general manager, Charmaine Lewis, Powder noted that there was no maintenance history for the vessel’s machinery on board.
“In the absence of the maintenance history of the vessel, tracing what is due, overdue or completed will be difficult,” the letter stated.
With respect to the actual mechanical issues identified during the sea trial, Powder explained that it took an additional hour and a half to get the “starboard outer main engine started, while the port inner main engine encountered a return to idle slow-down fault and could not ramp up at all from 330RPM idle speed, which was eventually rectified, after which starboard outer main engine could not ramp up past 440RPM and kept going into overload. This also was rectified soon after.”
Powder wrote when the four engines were finally running the sea trial officially began, but a number of issues surfaced, including highly dangerous and explosion risk issues.
“Exhaust leaks from the part inner main engine were significant, with the other three engines not far behind and portions of the lagging were either damaged or missing. This posed quite a significant fire hazard and will affect the performance of the main engines as the turbochargers and charge air cooler will become affected,” the letter stated.
“All main engines were running off the electric fuel transfer pump because the main engines were not sustaining sufficient fuel pressure on their own past idle speed. This is not normal operation.
“Should the electric pump fail then propulsion would be totally lost on that respective side whether part or starboard machinery space.”
It also mentioned that none of the main engines’ oil mist detectors were functional or even had a power supply to them, “which is highly dangerous and poses a potential explosion risk in the engine crankcase.”
Powder noted that under the circumstances, Grant conferred with him and it was agreed that it was untenable to have the Ocean Flower 2 sail to T&T in that condition.
“Citing all the aforementioned, in my humble opinion I therefore cannot recommend the MV Ocean Flower 2 for the inter-island high speed ferry service between Port-of-Spain and Scarborough at this time or until such issues mentioned herein above are addressed and rectified,” Powder said.
The report was presented to the media during a press conference called by Opposition Senator Attorney Gerald Ramdeen yesterday.
He said based on Powder’s report Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan and the entire PATT board should either resign or be fired.
He also called on the Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams to launch a full criminal investigation into PATT’s board.
“I want the police to enter on the premises of the PATT and seize all material in relation to this matter, not only hard copy documents but take the servers of the PATT and extract all email communications between Lewis, Sinanan, board members and BSG and preserve it,” Ramdeen said.
“It is amazing even in reading this report…This is what the PATT bought for the people of T&T? This is what they wanted the people to go on?
“I wonder if that is the reason as to why the contract was cancelled and not what they feeding the people that it was cancelled because it was delayed? It just could not have reached here.”
He added: “We must hold them (referring to Lewis, the board members and Sinanan) accountable. I call upon Lewis and Sinanan to tender their resignations and if Sinanan doesn’t, then the Prime Minister should do the right thing,” he added.
PATT chairman Alison Lewis last evening told Guardian Media that the PATT considered all factors in making the decision to terminate the deal, including the delayed arrival, failure to meet an extended deadline and the chief engineer’s report.