Heritage Wharf is ‘full of defects and deficiencies’ Moniz

  • Photo by Maureen Sullivan
The Norwegian Star is shown shortly after high winds ripped it from Heritage Wharf, Ireland Island in September.

    Photo by Maureen Sullivan The Norwegian Star is shown shortly after high winds ripped it from Heritage Wharf, Ireland Island in September.

The Heritage Wharf at Dockyard is not structurally strong enough to accommodate even regular-sized cruise ships, according to a yet-to-be-released engineer’s report.

The development is currently undergoing a multimillion dollar modification programme so that it can accommodate larger vessels at the start of the new cruise ship season in May.

Despite the fact that a thruster wall was damaged during Hurricane Igor in 2010, the former government, which oversaw the development, has always maintained that there were no errors with the original design or construction — which ended up costing $60 million against an original estimate of $39 million.

But Government MPs have now revealed that the wharf is not “structurally safe” and is “full of defects and deficiencies”.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, Tourism and Transport Minister Shawn Crockwell questioned earlier comments by Shadow Public Works Minister Derrick Burgess that the current modifications were only necessary so that larger cruise ships could berth at Dockyard.

“That’s not the case — that’s part of the case, absolutely — work has to be done because those ships are getting larger and we have to accommodate for that,” Mr Crockwell said.

“But the fact of the matter is that Heritage Wharf — after $60 million in building that wharf — we have engineering reports now which say it is not structurally sound to even take an average cruise ship.”

Mr Burgess then interjected, accusing Mr Crockwell of misleading the House. He cited an earlier report commissioned by the former government which found “that there was no fault with the work”.

“There’s no repair work that has to happen up there,” Mr Burgess said. “The honourable member is in Tourism — stay there, cousin.”

But Mr Crockwell hit back, pointing out that he had a right to speak out on the cruise ship wharf because it had a direct impact on his Tourism and Transport portfolios.

“What the honourable member doesn’t know — because the honourable member is no longer in government — is that we’ve had additional reports and you will be made aware of them,” the Southampton West Central MP said.

“In the engineering reports that we’ve received, it’s been made clear that the wharf is structurally unsound, that it cannot take an average cruise ship with 20 knot winds.”

Mr Burgess then rose to make another point of order. Referring to an incident last September when the Norwegian Star cruise ship broke away from the wharf during a storm, he said: “Just this summer a ship of 80,000 tons was tied up along the wharf up there.

“That dock is designed so that, if the winds are above 35 knots, no ship should be tied to that dock. The winds came up to 65 knots and the only thing that broke was the ropes.

“No structural damage was done to those docks and that’s after checks were done by Public Works. I’m going to say it again, the honourable member is in Tourism and Transport — stay there.”

Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz then spoke to confirm that a new survey — which has yet to be tabled in the House of Assembly — has exposed numerous flaws in the original design and construction.

“I know Mr Burgess is stating his view there and I don’t want to get too far into it on this occasion, but the information I have as Minister of Public Works supports what my colleague in Cabinet and Tourism says,” Mr Moniz said.

“That wharf is — in terms of design and construction — full of defects and deficiencies and is not safe. We have been lucky enough so far not to have a major problem but that may be down to a matter of luck.

“It will come out in due course. I will be coming to this House with a fuller ministerial statement in due course, but I don’t want to get into a debate on this evening.”

Asked by Mr Burgess if Government now had “two different reports”, Mr Crockwell confirmed that a new survey of the facility — still being kept under wraps by Government — had now been completed and judged it to be unsafe.

“The fact of the matter is the country will be fully appraised,” Mr Crockwell said.

“And I agree with the honourable member — I don’t disagree with what he said in terms of what the wharf was able to do. I said the same thing — well if we’ve been able to take ships all this time why is it that we now have these major problems?

“But the engineering report has stated that the wharf is not safe. Consequently this Government is tasked to get the wharf in proper condition so that we can accept cruise ships.

“That’s an example of something that should have been done right the first time. $60 million and yet we are having problems with that wharf. That’s unacceptable.”

Last month a Government spokesman confirmed that the Ministry of Public Works had conducted a year-long investigation into the strength of the wharf “to determine the true design strength of the dock as constructed in order to design strengthening works necessary to accommodate new larger cruise ships”.

Four mooring and berthing structures are now needed bring the wharf up to strength, and building work is expected to begin next month.

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Published Feb 18, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 17, 2013 at 11:21 pm)

Heritage Wharf is ‘full of defects and deficiencies’ Moniz

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