F.-A.-Gauthier: the incompetence of the STQ cost taxpayers millions

The comedy of mistakes and bad decisions surrounding the design, construction and maintenance of the ship F.-A.-Gauthier has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, says the Auditor General in a devastating report.

The now famous ferry, built at a cost of $ 170 million between 2013 and 2015 – it was supposed to cost $ 148 million – has been the subject of numerous critical reports in the media: cost overruns, design flaws, breakage. But LV x-rays leave no doubt that the cancer is generalized. In total, the adventure cost $ 235 million.

  • The STQ did not have all the skills to carry out the project to build a ship of the scale of the NM F.-A.-Gauthier.
  • The process chosen to select the shipbuilder was not aligned with shipbuilding industry practices.
  • The STQ was unable to take advantage of several elements of negotiations with the manufacturer.
  • Service interruptions F.-A.-Gauthier cost $ 22 million because the STQ did not take enough measures to mitigate the risks in the event of a service interruption.

Take the call for tenders to find the project manager responsible for the construction of the vessel. He was the main representative of the STQ in Italy at the Ficantieri shipyard. Despite the requirements, he did not have a university education in engineering, no MBA, and did not have enough experience for major engineering projects.

This lack of skills could have been remedied by the assistance of the consortium of naval architects, but the STQ terminated their contract before the start of the ship’s construction, which deprived it of an important expertise for the surveillance of works.

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The number of STQ employees dispatched to Italy was inadequate to ensure the supervision of the ship’s construction. For example, the STQ “had to be present during the factory acceptance tests of the thrusters”. She did not participate. The breakage of these thrusters forced the STQ to put the vessel out of service in 2018 and required repairs of $ 8.5 million. The Auditor General also notes that the STQ did not respect either the maintenance guides for the various mechanical parts or the maintenance plan of the MV. F.-A.-Gauthier. A meeting with the manufacturer could have been useful.

The choice of manufacturer Ficantieri is also questioned by the Auditor General. The “overly restrictive” conditions of the call for tenders meant that the Italian shipyard offered the only compliant tender. Two price offers were rejected ($ 154M for STX Finland, $ 160M for STX France) due to the administrative burden.

The STQ waived the ship’s guarantees

The STQ was unable to assert its rights with Ficantieri. It did not demand a penalty for postponing the delivery date of the vessel, when it could have demanded $ 3.85 million.

Some decisions of the STQ are downright incomprehensible. It neither negotiated nor demanded any real compensation for defects in the delivery of the vessel. However, the contract allowed the STQ to demand the correction of all these defects.

She accepted defects on a ship which was nevertheless new: rusted ventilation ducts, poorly identified electrical cables, floor of a deck that was not stable, welding defects on a natural gas tank. “The acceptance of a large number of defects of this nature, ie 54, represents a failure to fulfill the responsibilities incumbent on the STQ to ensure the quality of the vessel,” deplores the auditor.

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The manufacturer offered 150,000 euros in spare parts. The STQ refused, because it lacked storage space.

Regarding other irregularities – cracked partition panels, mold ($ 700,000), ineffectiveness of the water intake system ($ 221,000) – the STQ reached an agreement with Ficantieri for a reimbursement much lower than the amount of the repairs. . And the situation is not resolved. “Regular checks are recommended in the future to control mold growth,” notes the auditor.

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