Thursday, November 16, 2023

PEI and other ferry news

 News Item 1 

 The federal government confirmed today (November 16) the purchase of the ferry Fanafjord from Norwegian owners, for CAN$ 38.6 million. The ship will be used on the Wood Islands, PE - Caribou, NS, May to December seasonal service as a temporary replacement for the Holiday Island. A new ferry is in the design stage and may be delivered in 2026.

 Holiday Island

The Holiday Island was declared a constructive total loss after a fire in 2022 and has since been scrapped. For the 2023 summer season, operators Northumberland Ferries Ltd (NFL) were able to borrow a spare ferry from the Société des Traversiers du Québec, the Quebec provincial ferry service. That ship, the Saaremaa I, (a 5233 gt ship, built in 2010) returned to Quebec in October. It could have been recalled at any time if needed in Quebec.

Saaremaa I

Despite reliability issues with the other PEI ferrry, the Confederation, there is no news about its replacement, which is also needed.


 Built in 1993 by Ferguson Industries Ltd in Pictou, NS, the 8060 gt Confederation is the main ship on the route. Supplemental service in the peak summer season was provided by the Holiday Island although it had to be used in the shoulder seasons when Confederation was out of service.

The "new" Fanafjord was built in 2007 and at 6904 gt it is barely big enough for the secondary boat use, and will be inadequate if needed to fill in for the Confederation.

Interestingly the Fanafjord is a dual fuel vessel, able to use diesel or LNG, and carried the name Greenferry I for a year from 2021 to 2022. Since there is no nearby means of refueling with LNG, I expect that it will be using diesel fuel exclusively during its Prince Edward Island tenure. 

News Item 2

There has been considerable adverse reaction to news that the Saint John, NB to Digby, NS ferry Fundy Rose will be redeployed for an indefinite period in 2024. A vital link for western Nova Scotia fish products headed for the United States, its removal for even a short period of time will have serious consequences. The road alternative to the ferry would mean a second driver would be required in order to get time sensitive product to market while respecting driver hour limits. Toursim would also be effected depending on the timing of the disruption.

Fundy Rose

The plan is for the Fundy Rose to move to the Souris, PE to Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone) Magdalen Islands route while its ferry Madeleine II goes to mandatory drydocking in rhe spring of 2024. 

That service requires more robust, sea-going type ships. Madeleine II, built in 2008 is a 15,875 gt ship and itself is an interim vessel until a replacement is delivered. Fundy Rose is a 10,193 gt ship built in 1999 and is also a marginal replacement - even on a temporary basis. 

I wonder if the Magdelan Island operators C.T.M.A. will also reactivate the ancient C.T.M.A. Vacançier (11,481 gt, built in 1973) which has been held in warm layup in Georgetown, PE since the suspension of its passenger service from Montreal in 2020, and occasional replacement service. (Its own replacement by the New Zealand ferry Straitsman has long been rumoured but nothing has been said since February of this year.)

C.T.M.A. Vacançier

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