Chronicles of Nonia continue

Rob Antle
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'Emergency' repairs done on troubled ferry

The Department of Transportation paid $371,000 for what is described as an "emergency refit" of its troubled ferry MV Nonia this year, according to documents recently tabled in the House of Assembly.

However, the transportation minister this week denied that an emergency refit took place at all.

"The work completed on the Nonia this past January was not an emergency refit," Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson said in a statement provided by his department.

Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson denies that his department paid $371,000 for what is described as an "emergency refit" of its troubled ferry MV Nonia this year. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

The Department of Transportation paid $371,000 for what is described as an "emergency refit" of its troubled ferry MV Nonia this year, according to documents recently tabled in the House of Assembly.

However, the transportation minister this week denied that an emergency refit took place at all.

"The work completed on the Nonia this past January was not an emergency refit," Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson said in a statement provided by his department.

But public tender exemptions released by the Government Purchasing Agency contradict that statement.

Those documents describe a $371,000 contract to Newdock in St. John's as an "emergency refit of Nonia." The reason the government skipped the tender process was a section of the law dealing with a "pressing emergency."

The documents suggest that Transport Canada ordered the repairs.

The contract was awarded Jan. 7.

"Emergency refit required by Transport Canada Marine Services, vessel out of service," the tender exemption notes.

But in a statement to The Telegram, Hedderson classified the refit as a routine part of the annual inspection process.

"While we had the vessel in for its inspection and out of the water we decided to repair damage that had been caused to the hull by the ice conditions while it was in service last year along the northeast coast," Hedderson noted.

"These damages were not critical and the vessel was not taking on water. Damage from ice happens from time to time when our vessels encounter heavy ice while in service. We felt that with the boat in drydock we had an opportunity to get this work completed."

The total cost of repairs to the Nonia was $722,000, the minister said.

Presented with the apparent contradiction between those comments and the tender exemption documents, Hedderson sent a follow-up statement stressing there was no emergency.

Somewhat unusually, however, Hedderson cited a section of the Public Tender Act dealing with "the case of a pressing emergency" to insist that the Nonia refit was not an emergency - even though that is the same section of the act the government used to avoid the tendering process for work on the ferry.

"The wording of the description in this document, specifically the term 'emergency refit' simply refers to work that was required on the Nonia," Hedderson said in his second e-mailed statement.

"This refers to work that was discovered when the inspection was completed and was required before the vessel returned to service."

After several days of Telegram inquiries, Transport Canada officials did not provide any information to clarify the matter.

The Nonia has a long and troubled history dating back more than a decade.

The then-Liberal government bought the used Estonian ferry - known at the time as Hull 100, and originally christened the Ahelaid - in 1999.

The cost was $930,000.

The province expected to spend another $2 million to get the ship in shape for service.

It didn't work out that way.

By the time it finally hit the water in 2005, the Nonia had cost taxpayers more than $10 million.

Among the challenges were "peculiar" parts and an instruction manual written in Russian.

In opposition, the Tories criticized the Liberals for the purchase and called the ferry a "rust bucket."

In government, they continued to fund repairs to the ship.

In 2008, the Nonia required more work - steering gear control, steering gear power units and rudder angle indicator systems - according to tender documents. Estimates at the time put that work at $1 million.

The January 2010 refit - "emergency" or not - saw the vessel remain in drydock for seven weeks.

A subsequent electrical fire on the Nonia again put the ferry out of service, this time just for a week. Those repairs only cost $2,000, according to the Department of Transportation.

The Nonia is currently back working the Bell Island run.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Department of Transportation, Transport Canada, Government Purchasing Agency

Geographic location: St. John's, Bell Island

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Comments

Recent comments

  • Audacity
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    A toll bridge?

    I can imagine people being bitter and acrimonious about this well into it's functional life as well. Can't please everyone all the time.

    What kind of bridge would it be I wonder? Suspension I suppose.

    I don't know. It's not exactly Manhattan or Montreal. I just don't know.

    Interesting idea though.

  • realistic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    With the aging vessel fleet you have no choice but to spend money to keep them in service. We all know what happens when a service is disturbed, people get up in arms!! There are 2 ferries being built at the moment and others to be constructed in the near future.
    Until the fleet is replaced we have to make due with what we have and do repairs as required.

  • realistic
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Just a side note to the Long Island Causeway. I have been on that ferry numerous times and am sceptical if a causeway is even a possibility. The tides seem strong at times and they get ice flow there, how can you possibly build a causeway here?
    I have spoken to people familiar with this area(not govt employees) and they say it is not practical to even think of building a causeway here.
    As for the ferry fleet...i guess everyone would like a new ferry, but the junk was bought in the 90's and now they have to be repaired or there will be no service at all.
    I also live where there is a ferry service and sometimes its an inconvenience but i choose to live here. Its my choice whether i want to put up with the ferry problems, ice conditions, winds, etc...or i can just move elsewhere where i can find something else to complain about!!

  • Barbara
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Another million dollars of the Long Island Causeway money. No wonder Government cancelled our Causeway. They needed all of our money to keep that piece of work Nonia going.

    The last I heard about 30 minutes ago is that the Nonia is somewhere near Little Bay Islands broken down. Please someone go get the crew off that piece of garbage and sink it, getting us all out of our misery once and for all.

    CBC should ask who went to Estonia to view and buy the Nonia, aka the Adelaide, aka the Hull 100 aka the Nonia. Whose wives went along on the trip, was it an enjoyable European holiday on taxpayers dollars and lastly and more importantly which Transportation officials received delivery of the bogus ship, not the one bought in Estonia, and who signed the cheque for a ship that was never ever seen by top TW officials??????

    • estonian
      February 11, 2013 - 22:21

      for your information it seems you guys there don't know to much about ships its old and russian built crap but in estonia theres a sistership just like it and works well 365 days a year whitout troubles doing 2 grossings a day between two major islands. you should hire more competent crew there especisly engine department and to pay so much money to repair this ship seems more like your local government has friends in the shipyards who just need high paying contract work:)) i mean you could find most spare parts for it from russia for a price per kilo:)))

  • Barbara
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Government would have been banking extra cash by now if they had allowed the Long Island Causeway project to proceed in 2005. It makes one wonder at the ineptitude of the Bureaucrats, the Transportation and Works officials who have been there for years. Our elected officials should keep a closer eye on these Bureaucrats as they give bad advice which are detrimental to the people of the Province and which waste taxpayers' money. Bureaucrats don't care about the people, they only care about protecting their own jobs. Our elected politicians should be more diligent so that the Long Island Causeway mistake situation does not happen again.

  • Stop the Racket
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    So what friend or relative of King Danny is associated with New Dock? This is typical Williams. Do as I say not as I do mentality. The dictatorship is alive and well even after the restoration of his heart Danny Williams is still the self centred ego maniac he always was. Oh well were stuck with him. FOR NOW.

  • Jenny
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    The MV Nonia is not on the Bell Island run. She has been dispatched to Little Bay Islands. The MV Flanders and the MV Beaumont Hamel are on the Bell Island run.

  • Teresita
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    This article provides further evidence that the expense of the repairs on the current aging fleet is akin to throwing money down a sink hole. Obviously, a more permanent solution needs to be addressed. A well thought out plan for a fixed link between Bell Island and the local mainland will pay for itself in the long run. Thus saving the taxpayers money. Simply said, it requires less negativity for this solution and thinking outside the box!!

  • Audacity
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    A toll bridge?

    I can imagine people being bitter and acrimonious about this well into it's functional life as well. Can't please everyone all the time.

    What kind of bridge would it be I wonder? Suspension I suppose.

    I don't know. It's not exactly Manhattan or Montreal. I just don't know.

    Interesting idea though.

  • realistic
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    With the aging vessel fleet you have no choice but to spend money to keep them in service. We all know what happens when a service is disturbed, people get up in arms!! There are 2 ferries being built at the moment and others to be constructed in the near future.
    Until the fleet is replaced we have to make due with what we have and do repairs as required.

  • realistic
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Just a side note to the Long Island Causeway. I have been on that ferry numerous times and am sceptical if a causeway is even a possibility. The tides seem strong at times and they get ice flow there, how can you possibly build a causeway here?
    I have spoken to people familiar with this area(not govt employees) and they say it is not practical to even think of building a causeway here.
    As for the ferry fleet...i guess everyone would like a new ferry, but the junk was bought in the 90's and now they have to be repaired or there will be no service at all.
    I also live where there is a ferry service and sometimes its an inconvenience but i choose to live here. Its my choice whether i want to put up with the ferry problems, ice conditions, winds, etc...or i can just move elsewhere where i can find something else to complain about!!

  • Barbara
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Another million dollars of the Long Island Causeway money. No wonder Government cancelled our Causeway. They needed all of our money to keep that piece of work Nonia going.

    The last I heard about 30 minutes ago is that the Nonia is somewhere near Little Bay Islands broken down. Please someone go get the crew off that piece of garbage and sink it, getting us all out of our misery once and for all.

    CBC should ask who went to Estonia to view and buy the Nonia, aka the Adelaide, aka the Hull 100 aka the Nonia. Whose wives went along on the trip, was it an enjoyable European holiday on taxpayers dollars and lastly and more importantly which Transportation officials received delivery of the bogus ship, not the one bought in Estonia, and who signed the cheque for a ship that was never ever seen by top TW officials??????

  • Barbara
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Government would have been banking extra cash by now if they had allowed the Long Island Causeway project to proceed in 2005. It makes one wonder at the ineptitude of the Bureaucrats, the Transportation and Works officials who have been there for years. Our elected officials should keep a closer eye on these Bureaucrats as they give bad advice which are detrimental to the people of the Province and which waste taxpayers' money. Bureaucrats don't care about the people, they only care about protecting their own jobs. Our elected politicians should be more diligent so that the Long Island Causeway mistake situation does not happen again.

  • Stop the Racket
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    So what friend or relative of King Danny is associated with New Dock? This is typical Williams. Do as I say not as I do mentality. The dictatorship is alive and well even after the restoration of his heart Danny Williams is still the self centred ego maniac he always was. Oh well were stuck with him. FOR NOW.

  • Jenny
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    The MV Nonia is not on the Bell Island run. She has been dispatched to Little Bay Islands. The MV Flanders and the MV Beaumont Hamel are on the Bell Island run.

  • Teresita
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    This article provides further evidence that the expense of the repairs on the current aging fleet is akin to throwing money down a sink hole. Obviously, a more permanent solution needs to be addressed. A well thought out plan for a fixed link between Bell Island and the local mainland will pay for itself in the long run. Thus saving the taxpayers money. Simply said, it requires less negativity for this solution and thinking outside the box!!