This was revealed yesterday by Minister of National Security John Sandy who said that a special committee has been set up by Cabinet to decide the way forward on matters relating to the vessels.
The vessels were purchased by the former PNM Government at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and the first vessel was supposed to be delivered this September. Minister Sandy said the committee will be making recommendations to Cabinet on whether to continue with the acquisition of the vessels or to terminate the contract.
He said all details are being worked out and when it is brought before Cabinet, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will have the final say on the matter.
Newsday understands that Government may seek liquidated damages from the BAE Surface Fleet for non-delivery of the three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Coast Guard. On Monday, following her arrival from Miami, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said, Government was concerned that the arrangement under which the OPVs were supposed to be delivered, has now turned into “a black hole” into which taxpayers’ money has gone and no returns are in sight. “The suppliers may have to pay us some money and that’s what we are looking at,” she said. While the OPVs could serve Trinidad and Tobago and other Caricom countries as part of an integrated security system against transnational criminals, Persad-Bissessar said she has been advised that the vessels were defective in several ways and “the goal post was shifting all the time” when it came to delivery dates.
The first OPV is supposed to be delivered by September, the second by December and the third by March, 2011. A ?150 million contract was signed between the then PNM Government and VT Shipbuilding in April 2007 for the OPVs. Following a merger with BAE Systems, VT became known as BAE Surface Fleet. A group of 66 Coast Guard officers have been in the United Kingdom since last year, waiting to bring the first OPV back to TT. The officers are being housed at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Portsmouth and the Erskine Bridge Hotel in Brighton.