Marine Atlantic expects the ferry Joseph and Clara Smallwood to resume sailing the Cabot Strait today.
Friday, the ferry was en route to Newfoundland from a drydock in Boston, Mass., where emergency repairs to its port-side rudder were completed.
Marine Atlantic estimates the cost of those repairs range from $400,000 to $500,000 — but the Crown corporation expects insurance will cover a portion of the price.
“The final cost to the corporation we don’t know yet because we’re still exploring that option,” said Tara Laing, spokeswoman for Marine Atlantic.
The Smallwood’s first crossing today will be strictly for commercial traffic.
“The customers facing the biggest impact would have been our commercial customers,” Laing explained.
On Sunday, the Smallwood resumes regular service with its usual mix of passenger cars and commercial trucks.
Laing said the corporation looked at two main issues in selecting the Boston shipyard for emergency repairs.
“We needed a shipyard within 48 hours sailing from North Sydney, because that’s where the vessel was.
“The shipyard had to be able to accommodate the vessel and we needed to get it in as quick as possible.”
Marine Atlantic usually sends it ferries to shipyards in Quebec or Nova Scotia.
“None of those were available,” Laing said.
“Then, we had to expand our search. That was how we ended up with Boston.”
Boston Ship Repair has a 350-metre graving dock.
Laing said shipyards in Newfoundland are unable to accommodate the 179-metre Smallwood, or the Caribou, which is the same length.
The Atlantic Vision, which is 203 metres, is undergoing its annual refit in Quebec. The ferry is expected back in service by the end of the month.
The Smallwood was taken out of service Oct. 3 when one of its two rudders experienced mechanical problems. Repairs were completed a week ahead of schedule.
“We were fortunate that the parts were available … everybody worked around the clock,” Laing said. “It’s a lot of work to try to get a vessel to drydock — there’s a lot of preparation.”
The crew, for instance, had to be equipped with passports before heading to a U.S. port.
“There were a lot of things that happened behind the scenes to make this happen as smoothly as it did.”