Recently a post on the “Discover Montserrat” Facebook page was brought to my attention by a friend of mine on Montserrat, whereby I am seen addressing the local press at the reception in Little Bay upon the passenger ferry Jaden Sun’s arrival to Montserrat nearly three years ago. In that post I am told I am singing the ship’s and crew’s praises.
I have not seen the post nor will go there to view it. However, I now feel it’s time to set the record straight as this subject seems to have taken on a life of its own over time, but for me, this matter was put to rest a long time ago. Besides the fact I have always tried to practice full and complete transparency while it has not always served me well in my dealings with Montserrat.
History by bullet points:
Five years ago I was contacted by Mr. David Duberry who was then the Government of Montserrat’s (GoM) access coordinator for the ferry service inquiring about building a brand new ferry; being I also represent a well-established U.S. shipyard which manufactures a great vessel. Those discussions eventually changed from a new build towards continuing to rent a ferry, but at the time my ferries were committed elsewhere and out of position so I offered a few other candidates owned by my colleagues as an alternative. They were the Bo Hengy (Bahamas Ferries Ltd.) and the Jaden Sun (Jaden Inc.) The Bo Hengy was eventually purchased by NCL, and she is servicing their private island in the Bahamas well and the Jaden Sun continues to provide reliable charter ferry service for MNI.
***In keeping with local law*** an “Invitation To Tender” (ITT) is published annually for ferry operators to tender their bid for the ferry service contract. It should be noted at the time it was published in 2016, my company was still representing both Bahamas Ferries Ltd. and Jaden Inc. so to prevent a potential conflict of interest we withdrew as agent for Bahamas Ferries Ltd. in favor of the Jaden Inc.. For the record, both bid in the 2016 ITT, which became embroiled in one controversy after another resulting in the contract award being done in the UK and Montserrat, which I cannot speak to having no knowledge of what transpired. But ultimately the Jaden Sun was chosen even though strangely, early on, the owner wanted nothing to do with Montserrat even while being just days away from filing for bankruptcy in St. Vincent.
So now acting as the Jaden Inc. representative after the Jaden Sun was picked I went to work with the newly appointed access coordinator in negotiations to produce a well thought out and fair charter contract which was not easy. To that end and for the sake of transparency hereto my agreement with Jaden Inc was simple and to industry norms as follows:
“As agent I tendered on behalf of Jaden Inc. and eventually produced a very lucrative charter contract guaranteed by DFID. As compensation thereof my company was to receive ten percent (10%) of the value of the contract as agent’s fee. While we had to finance the fee, Jaden Inc. lived up to the agreement by making monthly payments through the term of the first contract. Furthermore we agreed to discount the fee to five percent (5%) upon any renewal of the contract regardless of being released as agent as expected.
Note: As an agent or consultant my experience is one’s value often seems quickly forgotten once dinner is served… so to speak. So with the ongoing residual agreement entered into, we also agreed not to tender in forthcoming ITT the following year to be fair and to prevent another potential conflict of interest situation”
Therefore upon the publication of the 2017 ITT we abided by the aforementioned non-compete term in our agreement and did not tender even though our larger, newer and faster ferries were now available and the Jaden Sun’s contract was renewed. However Jaden Inc. then refused payment citing it was not a “renewal” but rather it was “a new contract” in claiming there was some revisions made to the first one which was purely semantics in our view. No further comment is necessary but this is not the genesis of me changing my position about the Jaden Sun as one might think.
To this day even with the aforementioned bad act, I still contend she is a good ship and so is her crew while they have become complacent over time. I will even contend the owner is one of the best jet boat captains I have ever seen regardless of what my personal feelings may be now but I moved on from that two years ago!
No… my shift away from the praises of the Jaden Sun came after we spent many thousands of U.S. dollars and hundreds of man hours in the development of the Montserrat cruise ship passenger day excursion program when it was determined the Jaden Sun did not meet the stringent regulations required by the major lines to carry their clientele on an international day excursion.
Enter the “Spirit of Montserrat” (ex-Kommandoren) which we then spent hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars on to meet those standards to launch the program, which by the numbers would have made the ferry very close to self-supporting. Then, while the vessel was in the process of being upgraded for re-entry to full DNV-LG Class we tendered her in the 2018 ITT having no conflict of interest with Jaden Inc. of course which we by documented evidence, we were the lowest bidder, but that is another story not to be revisiting. Hence as far as I/we are concerned this matter is closed!
What now? The “Spirit of Montserrat” has been placed on the open market for sale. It was recently offered for sale to the GoM though our broker at “IBS Global” via email sent directly to the attention of the Premier so that he could forward it to the appropriate department within his administration for consideration, but it has not been acknowledged that I am aware of. The ferry was offered delivered to Montserrat in full Class with newly rebuilt fuel efficient KTA50 Cummins main engines looking as new with many upgrades. Basically totally renewed having a replacement value of around $10 million USD. No tender, no charter, no controversy, no sweat!
Finally, with this post - which I hope is insightful - being true and accurate ,somebody might consider moving on as we have done, and give the matter a break! Best wishes to all and good luck…