Inter-island barge traffic came to a near halt last week as only one vessel was available to transport cars between St. John and St. Thomas for two days.
The trouble started on Monday, March 12, when personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard’s marine safety detachment on St. Thomas ordered a third barge grounded, according to USCG spokesperson Ricardo Castrodad.
The Love City Car Ferries-owned Captain Vic had been taken out of service voluntarily for maintenance and the General II, owned by Boyson Inc., was awaiting USCG inspection to return to the fleet, when the Global Marine-owned Roanoke was ordered taken out of service after a spot check revealed bow damage on the vessel, U.S Guard Chief Warrant Officer Darel McCormick explained.
“It was an in-service inspection,” said McCormick. “I was there to follow up to make sure the car ferries were chocking — blocking
the wheels — of the first row of vehicles, to prevent vehicles from inadvertently exiting the vessel.”
“I was on the Roanoke, and they were chocking the cars, when I noticed that I needed to inspect the vessel further,” Mc-Cormick added. “There was damage to the bow and I ordered the vessel grounded.
“The damage wasn’t serious in its size or quantity, but it was something that needed immediate attention,” McCormick said.
The Roanoke remained out of service awaiting repairs, according to the USCG warrant officer.
Boyson-owned Mister B was operational throughout the week.
The Captain Vic, which was not subject to USCG inspection before returning to service, was back in operation on Tuesday, March 13.
While a second barge in operation relieved some congestion, barge traffic was still snarled for the rest of the week.
Coast Guard-inspected passenger vessels are subject to searches at any time, the USCG’s Castrodad explained.
“Passenger vessels that have a USCG certificate of inspection have to be ready to be inspected at any particular time,” said the USCG spokesperson. “The Coast Guard inspector did not go there intentionally to look for the damage, but when he sees it, he needs to document it and take action.”