At the news conference following the ship’s arrival in Cirkewwa, the Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana explained that during the ship’s transfer, it will be able to accommodate more vehicles at the waiting bay. She added that the vessel is much faster than the rest of the fleet making the journey time much shorter.
The Minister said that this means that a new schedule will now be brought into affect which will accommodate commercial vehicles. She also said that maintenance work will now also be able to be scheduled. She added that process of finding a new vessel has been going on for a year now with most of the research on feasibility already carried out. Now the government was in the process of carrying out a tender that will be bringing forward a more permanent fourth ship for Gozo Channel.
A new ferry is arriving in Cirkewwa this morning which will serve as the fourth ship rented temporarily by Gozo Channel to help the company meet the demand of trips in summer.
It had been announced last May that a new 4th ferry would be temporarily added to the Gozo Channel fleet. The vessel named the Nikolaos is understood to accommodate 160 cars, with capacity for 650 passengers in Summer and 350 in Winter.
Chris Said had previously stated that whilst there are a number of entities that have said that the current Gozo Channel fleet needs to be replaced in ten years’ time as soon as they have been 30 years operating at sea, the vessel that is being chartered is 32 years old.
Nikolaos will be hired for a definite period until an international tender is issued by Gozo Channel for a vessel on a longer hire.
In February, the Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana had said that the Gozo Channel ships are unique and so it was very difficult find another ship that can be added to the fleet and can be docked in Cirkewwa port and Mgarr, Gozo.
These images show the inside of the Nikolaos vessel…