By Shemain Bique-Charles
It may take several days before the luxurious Island Escape ferry resumes transporting passengers between Antigua and the sister isle, Barbuda, after it was involved in an accident on Monday night.
The ferry control system reportedly failed, which caused it to drift before it collided with the MV AIDA LUNA, a cruise ship that was docked at the St John’s Harbour.
Island Escape’s owner, Captain Mark Rosandich, told Observer that no one was hurt during the minor accident and the damage sustained to his vessel will take a few days to repair.
“The cause of the control failure has already been diagnosed and is being rectified. It is anticipated the ferry will be back in service by the end of the week,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a report to the owner, Island Escape’s engineer Adian Gittens explained that while proceeding to the Heritage Quay dock at about 5.30pm on Monday, the Island Escape suddenly lost control of both port and starboard steering ahead and astern electro-hydraulic system.
“Although several attempts were made to regain control of the vessel, she made contact with MV AIDA LUNA. Initial checks were made and an observation of low voltage was observed at both of the jet control module digital screens,” Gittens said.
He said that based on assessments, he believes that the power interlock module sensed a high voltage caused by a malfunctioning battery charger and cut power to both jet control modules.
“This caused us to lose control of the vessel until rebooting of the system was done,” he explained.
Damage to the ferry is estimated to be about US$15,000.
Port Manager Darwin Telemaque said the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping will investigate the matter, after which a report will be presented to the Port Authority for commendations.
The fast 150-passenger ferry recently recommenced services to Antigua and Barbuda, following upgrades while on charter in the British Virgin Islands.
The owners said that many of the upgrades were necessary to enable the vessel to obtain international sailing certification in order to re-establish the water bridge between Antigua and Montserrat next spring.