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The Buccoo Reef, the newest ferry in the national fleet servicing the seabridge between Trinidad and Tobago.

Problems which recently affected the Buccoo Reef ferry were because of pumps which were installed in engines which may not have been properly flushed – and workmanship appeared to be the issue.

This was indicated yesterday by Herbert George the chairman of the National Infrastructure Development Company.

George said, “Things fell through the cracks and maybe the pumps were installed on engines which were not properly flushed. That’s the best assessment of what has happened with the Buccoo Reef …not really an indictment of the engines, but it will probably have had to do with the workmanship.”

George also said water taxis may be considered to do weekend Down the Island excursions.

He spoke when Nidco officials appeared before Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (State Enterprises) examining Nidco’s operations.

George said there’s so far been no major problem with the APT James ferry which arrived recently.

The Buccoo Reef, however, on its delivery trip to Trinidad and Tobago was forced to turn back to Hobart, Tasmania after developing a problem on January 21.

One main engine was overheating and the ship’s master decided to return to Hobart although he was told he could have continued and it would have been sorted out subsequently.

“We agreed with him,” George added.

Troubleshooters found the problem was a leak on the cooling water pump. George said all works are still under guarantee and the manufacturer of the main engine, Mann, agreed to work on the issue. The pump was removed, certain parts attended to and it was reinstalled.

According to George upon sea trials, it was found another pump had sprung a leak.

It was also discovered that the filters on the pumps were clogged by foreign matter like sludge.

He explained it was decided the aggressive high pressure /high-temperature environment was very abrasive and that was causing seals of the pumps to be damaged.

George said all four pumps are being replaced with new ones being installed. All engines are being flushed to remove any foreign matter in the cooling system.

He said sea trials will be done to see how the situation goes, and once it meets everyone’s satisfaction, then the vessel will be able to resume its journey to this country sometime towards month-end.

“And subject to the repairs being successful,” George stressed.

He said the workmanship might have been different to the APT James whose builders might have been “more thorough in flushing the engines before they installed the pumps on that vessel.”

George said Nidco is following up and has a consultant in Australia who will witness the Buccoo Reef’s sea trials which Government has requested before the boat leaves for this country.

George also said Nidco is examining the possibility of extending water taxis’ services apart from Point Fortin and La Brea. He said in the past vessels were used for Down the Islands excursions which were well supported.

He added, to get better returns Nidco may need to reproduce this on weekends when vessels aren’t being used. Three vessels are working and a fourth, undergoing work, will be brought on stream soon.