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Sea Trials for New Ferries Postponed

The arrival date for the two new ferry vessels for St. Thomas and St. John has been postponed, the Department of Public Works reported Friday.

The vessels were scheduled for their sea trials, the shakedown testing phase of construction, but were delayed by the approach of Tropical Storm Karen, which churned across the Gulf of Mexico in early October, threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast before dissipating.

A sea trial is the testing phase of watercraft construction, testing the seaworthiness of boats, ships and submarines. It is the last milestone before the shipbuilder turns the vessel over to the owner.

The ferries were originally to be delivered in November. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls gave the ferry builder, Midship Marine, of Harvey, La., a 30-day extension.

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The new sea trial dates for the St. Thomas and St. John ferryboats are Oct. 21 and 22.

The two ferries are catamarans and will operate between Cruz Bay, St. John, and Red Hook, St. Thomas.

They are the first to be built under new U.S. Coast Guard regulations for passenger vessels, according to the DPW. The ships will be leased and operated by the territory’s two franchise ferry companies.

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