Maritime Transportation Authority activating plan to move cargo to Vieques, Culebra
The Puerto Rico Maritime Transportation Authority will activate an alternate plan effective today to address challenges to move cargo that arose recently after the “Isleño” ferry was removed from the route between Ceiba and the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra.
MTA Executive Director, Mara Pérez-Torres, said “Isleño” had an anomaly in one of its cabins where water was entering the hull, which was discovered during an inspection by the US Coast Guard.
The plan consists in renting the Marilin H. barge and trailer, that has the capacity for more than 40 vehicles that will supplement cargo service currently offered through the Mr. Mason ferry, and modify the schedules of the vessel to “meet the cargo needs” of both municipalities.
“Faced with this situation, we’re sending Isleño to the dry dock at once for compulsory maintenance, so it will be out of the scheduled rotation until further notice,” she said.
At the same time, Torres mentioned that they have remained in communication with both municipalities’ mayors to provide guidance to the population on any issue.
“The procedure designed to deal with these cases was immediately activated, which requires taking the boat out of service, sending it to a dry dock to carry out a visual inspection and work on permanent repairs,” she added.
According to the Coast Guard’s maritime regulations and the vessel’s operations manual, the ships should be sent to the dry dock every two years as part of the maintenance routine.
The MTA is working to get other cargo vessel alternatives to support these two vessels, which would be announced “as they are finalized.”
“We urge all maritime transport users to be attentive to updates on our networks and the main media,” Torres said.
On Thursday, residents of Vieques and Culebra published numerous concerns on social media pages about the lack of provisions and gasoline on the islands.