Saturday, January 19, 2013

Princess of Acadia - gone south

1. Princess of Acdia arriving in Halifax in June, when there was drydock space available for her.

Thanks to Bay Ferry Man [see link to his blog in My Faves] we have been notified that Princess of Acadia has gone to Charleston, SC for repairs to her bow thruster. He also tells us that this is the first time that the ship has left Canadian waters since it was built in Saint John in 1971. 
A frequent visitor to Halifax for repairs [she was here in May and June of 2012 - see previous posts] she will not be seen this time because there is no drydock space for her. The ferry was well suited to the Scotiadock II floating drydock (in fact it was the first customer on the dock) - but that option is no longer available.
Bay Ferry Man also asks if it isn't time for a replacement. It certainly is, and way past time in most minds. Although the ship is in pretty good shape, it is certainly well beyond its 30 year life expectancy. So we have to ask, what is the Minister of Transport waiting for? Any business that does not plan ahead for vessel replacement is considered to be poorly managed. We must come to the same conclusion about the Ministry of Transport. Even when it was built in 1971 everyone should have known that it would need replacement in 30 years, but politics has entered into the equation and now it has become some sort of football/ bargaining chip/ or chance for the government to "look good".
Instead we have a ship now that's best before date has expired, and which no longer meats the more stringent safety features required of  European ferries and passenger ships. Thank goodness it is powered with four GM EMD engines, permitting huge redundancy for repairs. These 16-645-E5s are endlessly rebuildable, and were specified by the first owners due to their experience with them as railway locomotive power plants.
The ship was indeed built for Canadian Pacific, but was taken over by the Canadian government in 1974, and remained under CP management until 1976, when it was moved to CN Marine - later Marine Atlantic. In 1997 Bay Ferries took over operation.
 2. In its early days with CP and later , for a time with Bay Ferries, the ship was painted mostly white.

Time and again the feds have have doled out money grudgingly to keep the ferry running, but it is now time to step up to the plate. The chances of getting a new Canadian built ferry for the run (or any new ferry) are probably pretty slim, and there is no surplus of used ferries kicking around, but from a standing start it would take at least a year to have a new ship in place.
Continued service unreliability can be expected in the meantime (through no fault of the managers) but the ship remains an essential part of the Nova Scotia economy and can't be ignored any longer.

3. Princess of Acadia looked best in Marine Atlantic livery. It needs a dark coloured funnel to balance it properly.

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