The U. S. Coast Guard cleared Bimini SuperFast ferry to transport passengers to and from Bimini, after several failed safety inspections and weeks of being docked in Miami.
The vessel was expected to make its inaugural trip late last month to coincide with the opening of the Resorts World Casino.
The ship met the minimal requirement to sail with its crew last week, but was not certified to transport passengers again because of a failed transitional power inspection.
In a press statement released yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard said the ferry received its initial certificate of compliance after all issues in previous inspections were satisfactorily resolved.
The 32,000-ton vessel passed its inspection of navigational, lifesaving, firefighting equipment and crew proficiency with emergency procedures.
In an interview of Monday night, Prime Minister Perry Christie said the U.S. Coast Guard has become very particular about its requirements based on all the incidents at sea.
“I am applauding them,” Christie said. “I am very happy that they are placing the developers to the test on minute details in terms of inspections of the cruise ship.
“I don’t want any incident between Bimini and Florida with that cruise ship. They have given me a date when they would expect me to do the first trip on the ferry and I am keeping that date right now because it is soon.”
Christie said despite the delay the vessel and what it represents is “super” for Bimini.
He announced that the government has decided to move ahead with plans to expand the Bimini development sooner than anticipated.
“It also enables them to get to know that they need more rooms immediately, and so therefore you are going to soon see us announce a new level of construction of a major kind in Bimini,” Christie said.
“…We were claiming some 400 jobs being created as a result of that (Resorts World) at this stage, but now they have formally written with respect to moving to a new stage and building hotels and expanding the airport, building a terminal for the cruise ship.
“Everything is really go, go in Bimini.” The challenge for the government is to ensure it does not allow Bimini to go beyond its capacity to absorb the pace of development taking place, Christie said.
The ferry is eventually expected to transport around 400,000 passengers between Florida and Bimini annually.
By: Royston Jones Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter