By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER its maiden voyage was delayed for more than two weeks for failing the first run of safety inspections, the Bimini Superfast Ferry has been approved by the U S Coast Guard to start operations.
The 32,000-ton vessel, which is expected to take about 400,000 passengers to Bimini each year, received an Initial Certificate of Compliance (ICOC) by the Coast Guard on Monday, according to several internet news reports.
Genting’s multi-million dollar ferry is expected to set sail on Saturday at 9 am on a journey that takes around two and a half hours. Another trip is scheduled for 9 pm to 5 am.
The government was heavily criticised for the ferry’s inability to leave Port Miami recently after Genting officials, Bahamian dignitaries and American and Bahamian media participated in the opening of Resorts World Bimini Casino and the christening of the ship.
However, Mr Christie later downplayed the incident saying that he was pleased that the ship’s safety was the subject of rigorous scrutiny given the occurrence of several incidents of cruise ships in high risk situations.
The crew of the Superfast Ferry during initial testing at the end of June, did not meet requirements that all passengers and crew had to be able to leave the ship and get into lifeboats within 30 minutes. Furthermore, emergency power and the automatic lifeboat drop malfunctioned. Overall, there was a lack of proficiency by the crew to respond to an emergency situation, a US Coast Guard official said.
The Superfast ferry can carry up to 3,000 passengers each trip at a cost of less than $50 a person.