Source reader Kathy Jackson asked the questions that have been on many people’s minds for the last three months. When will the new St. Thomas-St. John ferries go into operation and what is the delay?
Turns out, there’s good news on the horizon.
The ferries, which arrived late last year, were dedicated in a December ceremony and were anticipated to be in service before the end of the year, according to Public Works Commissioner Daryl Smalls at that time.
Since then, a series of contract disputes between the ferries’ franchise operators and the government have held up getting the ferries in service.
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Bryson Spangler said Monday morning that Cruz Bay I, the ferry going to Transportation Services, is scheduled for a New to Zone inspection Thursday. He said this is the final inspection done on passenger vessels new to the territory.
"Both ferries have their certificates of inspection," he said. "This final inspection includes man overboard, fire and muster drills, and paperwork."
Spangler said he has not had a request for inspection from Varlak Ventures, the other ferry franchise.
Clearly happy to talk about getting the new vessel, the Cruz Bay I into service, Transportation Services general manager Kenrick Augustus said Monday, "Most likely, we’ll be in business next Monday, if everything goes right."
"We’ll be doing a new security test and drills, not just the regular new licensing paperwork,” Augustus said. “We have to check the safety equipment. Everything has to be passed. We’ve never done a man overboard drill on this vessel. We will be taking it out tomorrow doing exercises and we need to mark out the areas on the boat where people cannot go, and paint the areas accordingly."
Delrise Varlack of Varlack Ventures would not comment Monday on the status of the franchise. She referred inquiries to Smalls for comment.
As of the close of business Monday, Smalls had not responded.