Ottawa invests in two ferries for Marine Atlantic

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Wayne Follett, president and CEO of Marine Atlantic, speaks to media following the announcement that the province will receive two ferries. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

The federal government announced today in St. John's that Marine Atlantic has reached an agreement with Stena Group of Companies to charter two new vessels to help meet increasing traffic demand between North Sydney and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The vessels are hoped to improve Marine Atlantic's ability to provide on-time, reliable service - something that has gotten a lot of criticism in recent weeks.
The announcement was made by Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport),; Rob Crosbie, chair of Marine Atlantic Inc.'s (MAI) board of directors; and Wayne Follett, president and chief executive officer of MAI.
"Our government is supporting Canada's economy by investing in new ships to improve Marine Atlantic's service and reliability," Merrifield said. "This investment, from Budget 2010, is another signal of our government's commitment to Atlantic Canada. I look forward to seeing an improved customer experience as these ships come into service."
Budget 2010 provides $175 million to Marine Atlantic Inc. over the next two years to help renew its fleet and shore facilities, and improve the quality and reliability of its services. The funding will allow MAI to charter two vessels from Stena to replace the aging MV Caribou, and MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood. The new vessels, built in 2006 and 2007, will bring about significant cost savings and operational efficiencies by lowering fuel costs and consumption. The new charter agreement is conditional upon MAI obtaining all necessary governmental and other approvals as may be required.
"Chartering two modern vessels will significantly aid Marine Atlantic in improving its capacity and reliability," Follett said "This can be attributed, in part, to the efficient design and the newness of the vessels. Once they join Marine Atlantic's fleet, the average vessel age will be reduced from 21 years to eight years."
Marine Atlantic Inc., a federal Crown corporation, provides a vital link between Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. As an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, Marine Atlantic's ferry services support tourism and the import and export of goods. In 2009, an estimated 27 per cent of all passengers, 50 per cent of all freight, and 90 per cent of all perishable goods between the Island of Newfoundland and the Canadian mainland were carried by Marine Atlantic.

The St. John's Board of Trade chairman Derek Sullivan said recognition of the Marine Atlantic ferry service as a vital trade link is welcome news.
"We welcome fleet renewal on Marine Atlantic because of the key role it plays in maintaining our $10 billion trade corridor between the mainland and our province," said Sullivan. "This announcement will help businesses here in terms of planning and cost controls, but will also provide mainland companies with better access to our strong economy, which is good for all of Canada."
The board has been active in lobbying for enhancements to the Marine Atlantic service, expressing on many occasions directly to federal officials that the service supports all of Canada economically. In 2009, the board brought forward a resolution to enhance the service to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, a group which represents 175,000 businesses across Canada, which was unanimously accepted.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Stena Group of Companies, Trans-Canada Highway St. John's Board of Trade Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador St. John's North Sydney Nova Scotia Island of Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    May we all hope and pray that someone has done their homework and we don't get a repeat of Marine Atlantic's last -experiment- with the Stena Group of Companies we can all remember the Stena Nordica & Atlantica nightmare.

  • John Smith
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    If they are planning on the two sister ship of the Vision, we had better get ready for lots of fires, crashing, and downtime.

  • flexxa
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    how much money over the decades and those to come for something that is continually plagued by fleet problems, fuel prices, weather and poor service. Fixed link folks - time to move into the 20th century and be done with this mess - bring the power line with it!

  • Tom
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    According to Marine Atlantic's website; the Caribou and Smallwood, both have a passenger capacity of 1200 each. Whereas these new vessels have a passenger capacity of 1000 each. Therefore, for every 5 trips that the Caribou or Smallwood make, it will take 6 trips for one of these new ferries to transport the same number of people. I hope they don't increase the fares to make up for the lost revenue from the sailings of the new vessels.

  • Know
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Are these rent to own, not enuff detail

  • logan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    lets hope you can get day seating...I have to book a cabin on that Atlantic Vision for a day crossing, no seats available, makes no sense to have vessels like these... So booked on the old ones going and coming, lets hope the baling wire holds out...Makes travel home soo risky and not cheap either..I have a feeling the Stena group will be the happy ones

  • Bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Well I hope these boats are a better choice than the Vision. They are operating that boat in one of the windiest areas in North America but if anyone within 10 kms starts breathing hard they can't manage to bring that boat into the pier.

  • Vickie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    I'm no math whiz but I fail to see how buying newer ships makes the old ones any less old.
    Once they join Marine Atlantics fleet, the average vessel age will be reduced from 21 years to eight years
    What a load of bull....except if it's floating in water near Marine Atlantic....then it weighs a lot less

  • Steve
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Your right vickie your not a math wiz, and apparently not a reading wiz either haha they said it drops the average age. So its easy to see that if the average is 21, so maybe a couple 20 odd year old ships and a 10 or 15 year old one, add a 3 and 4 year old one and the average drops to about 8 or 10 easily. A math wiz is what you are not. lol

  • Joanne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    I have mixed emotions to read Marine Atlantic's news.
    On one hand I was pleased to hear the news regarding the chartering of two new vessels for the Sydney/Port aux Basques run as I can only hope that the service will improve. (It cannot get too much worse.) Let's hope that there is no price increase on this vital link to the rest of Canada. I will not go into my rant about why I think the service, for resident Newfoundlanders, should be discounted as it is OUR Trans Canada Highway.
    However, I was disappointed that these vessels will be chartered and not constructed/refitted in a local shipyard such as Marystown.

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    May we all hope and pray that someone has done their homework and we don't get a repeat of Marine Atlantic's last -experiment- with the Stena Group of Companies we can all remember the Stena Nordica & Atlantica nightmare.

  • John Smith
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    If they are planning on the two sister ship of the Vision, we had better get ready for lots of fires, crashing, and downtime.

  • flexxa
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    how much money over the decades and those to come for something that is continually plagued by fleet problems, fuel prices, weather and poor service. Fixed link folks - time to move into the 20th century and be done with this mess - bring the power line with it!

  • Tom
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    According to Marine Atlantic's website; the Caribou and Smallwood, both have a passenger capacity of 1200 each. Whereas these new vessels have a passenger capacity of 1000 each. Therefore, for every 5 trips that the Caribou or Smallwood make, it will take 6 trips for one of these new ferries to transport the same number of people. I hope they don't increase the fares to make up for the lost revenue from the sailings of the new vessels.

  • Know
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Are these rent to own, not enuff detail

  • logan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    lets hope you can get day seating...I have to book a cabin on that Atlantic Vision for a day crossing, no seats available, makes no sense to have vessels like these... So booked on the old ones going and coming, lets hope the baling wire holds out...Makes travel home soo risky and not cheap either..I have a feeling the Stena group will be the happy ones

  • Bill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Well I hope these boats are a better choice than the Vision. They are operating that boat in one of the windiest areas in North America but if anyone within 10 kms starts breathing hard they can't manage to bring that boat into the pier.

  • Vickie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    I'm no math whiz but I fail to see how buying newer ships makes the old ones any less old.
    Once they join Marine Atlantics fleet, the average vessel age will be reduced from 21 years to eight years
    What a load of bull....except if it's floating in water near Marine Atlantic....then it weighs a lot less

  • Steve
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    Your right vickie your not a math wiz, and apparently not a reading wiz either haha they said it drops the average age. So its easy to see that if the average is 21, so maybe a couple 20 odd year old ships and a 10 or 15 year old one, add a 3 and 4 year old one and the average drops to about 8 or 10 easily. A math wiz is what you are not. lol

  • Joanne
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    I have mixed emotions to read Marine Atlantic's news.
    On one hand I was pleased to hear the news regarding the chartering of two new vessels for the Sydney/Port aux Basques run as I can only hope that the service will improve. (It cannot get too much worse.) Let's hope that there is no price increase on this vital link to the rest of Canada. I will not go into my rant about why I think the service, for resident Newfoundlanders, should be discounted as it is OUR Trans Canada Highway.
    However, I was disappointed that these vessels will be chartered and not constructed/refitted in a local shipyard such as Marystown.