- Westminster is still waiting to complete a slip inspection of its Sierra Queen vessel to ascertain the full extent of damage to it, although no serious damage below the waterline can be seen.

A second vessel, Sierra Princess, is due to arrive end-May.

Referring to the Sierra Queen, Westminster said it is still waiting for the slip to be vacated by the current vessel which has been a source of continued frustration.

"In the meantime the Company has deployed specialist technicians who have arrived in country and have been carrying out checks and assessments whilst the vessel is still in the water.

"Major items such as engines and gearboxes have been checked and are fully operational. Minor electrical problems from water ingress have been found and are being corrected along with the need to replace two propeller blades.

"From inspections by divers no serious damage can be seen below the waterline however once the slip is available and the vessel removed from the water the minor hull damage can be repaired, the two damaged propeller blades replaced and a full inspection below the waterline undertaken. Further updates will be made as appropriate."

Westminster added that Sovereign Ferries' planned second vessel, a 70 seater fast ferry, acquired under a favourable lease purchase arrangement is due to leave for Sierra Leone this week and is due to arrive in country towards the end of May.

"This second vessel, named Sierra Princess, is planned to commence operations as soon as sea trails and in country formalities have been completed and is part of the planned roll out of the ferry service.

"The Sierra Princess will be supplementing the Sierra Queen by providing new routes and services from terminals to different landing stages and in addition opening up a much needed water taxi service around the coastline.

"A second vessel not only enhances the revenue potential of the operation but will also provide a backup service should either vessel be out of service for maintenance or repair."

At 9:48am: [LON:WSG] Westminster Group PLC share price was -0.88p at 10p

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