Ferry construction work could go elsewhere: minister

James McLeod
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Spat with Marystown shipyard owner about cost-overruns brings delays

The provincial ferry Capt. Earl W. Winsor is currently on drydock in St. John’s. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The largest new ferry the provincial government has commissioned in recent memory may not be built in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson said he hopes the re­place­ment ferry to serve Fogo and Change Islands will be built in the province, but if it means delays, the government will get the boat built in Norway or Germany or somewhere else.

“We’re going down a road now where we need, within the next year, to have everything in place to make a decision as to where we’re going to build this particular ferry,” Hedderson told reporters. “We’re at a point right now that we need to move forward on this particular ferry for Fogo Island and Change Islands, and any delay will delay us down the road in getting this in the water.”

The province had hoped the MV Capt. Earl W. Winsor’s replacement would be built at the shipyard in Marystown — the only facility large enough to handle the work — but a spat between the government and shipyard owner Peter Kiewit and Sons has been causing issues.

The province wanted three medium-sized ferries built in Marystown, and two have already been delivered, but there’s a dispute about cost-overruns.

Hedderson wouldn’t name an exact number, but he said the dispute was “millions” on the two ferries, and until the parties reach an agreement, construction on the third ferry won’t begin.

When it comes to the Winsor replacement, Hedderson said he would like to see the boat built in Marystown, but he won’t wait.


Any shipyard around the world is welcome to get in touch with the provincial government as it seeks expressions of interest.

“One of the possibilities is that Peter Kiewit  will put in an offer or an expression of interest, and we could very well be going down that road,” Hedderson said.

If Kiewit isn’t the way the government chooses to go, Hedderson said he wants to be in a position to award a contract to someone else as quickly as possible, likely some time early next year.

Liberal transportation critic Eddie Joyce jumped on Hedderson’s announcement, saying the PC government was going back on a promise.

“If you go back in the House of Assembly and in the media, I heard the former premier and all the ministers saying the boats will be built in Newfoundland and Labrador. They guaranteed it,” he said. “Obviously, they didn’t follow through on their commitment.”

New Democrat MHA George Murphy said the cost overruns dispute just comes down to government priorities, and based on the current problems, it will be years before any of the ferries will finally be delivered.

“We’re told there’s plenty of cash. Government chose to upset the ferry schedule a long time ago by pouring money into Nalcor,” Murphy said. “Maybe by the next election year you might see another one or two roll off a dock somewhere. The real pity about that is it’s probably not going to happen in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Hedderson wouldn’t put a price tag on the new ferry to be built in the province. He would only say it will be substantially more than the $27 million the government spent on each of the medium-sized ferries.



Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Peter Kiewit and Sons

Geographic location: Marystown, Newfoundland and Labrador, Fogo Island Change Islands Norway Germany

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Recent comments

  • John
    May 05, 2012 - 13:45

    According to the company the delays were caused by design flaws in the government accespted design. How are cost overruns caused by poor design which to my uncerstanding not completed by Kiewitt be held against the company? @ the business man... the best deal for taxpayors is one that provided the most benefits for the tax payors. The last time they went offshore for a ship they spent millions trying to fix it. Why make the same mistake twice. You have way too much faith in the government being able to procure deals that don't in the long run cost the taxpayor far more money in the long run. Something tells me if it was your job they were declaring redundent or moving offshore that you would not be so quick to judge it the way you do.

  • Frank
    May 04, 2012 - 12:20

    Slippery slope that. If workers can't get any work because it can be done cheaper elsewhere then what tax payers dollars? The dollar value plays into it sure but so does the spin-off dollars that are in the pockets of local workers and are being spent in the province. That goes away if it is built in Norway simply based on the price tag. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely not condoning the cost over runs but maybe middle ground would be better served.

  • BBI
    May 04, 2012 - 11:36

    Hedderson says he hopes to have everything in place so the contract will be awarded "sometime next year". What a friggin' stall! What a bluff!

  • Harv
    May 04, 2012 - 10:41

    Is this a case of a Newfoundland Company taking advantage of of the Gov? Worst thing they could have said is we guarantee it will be built here, Mr. Kiewit sees $ signs after that. Let's milk this because Gov ahs the money. That's our money. Using NL pride to shake down the province for our tax dollars, is just wrong.

    • well said
      May 04, 2012 - 11:43

      very well said. that is why we need to use a foreign company with a foreign workforce. Building here using local worker is just too risky. The workers will delay and shake down the government as if this were a make work project. I really don't care where the ships are built. I just demand, as a taxpayer, value for money. If the Asians or Americans can offer better value for money, then the government has a duty to give them the contract. No more using my tax dollars to overpay local workers. Instead, cut out the local workers, pay the foreigners less, get the same quality ship, and invest the savings in health care. Who are the Losers? obviously the local workers who do not get to work on the project. Who are the Winners? every other taxpayer who will not get hosed by the workers. Therefore, in the interest of the majority and of taxpayers, less get some Asians or Americans to do the work at a cheaper rate.

  • Nasty Nate
    May 04, 2012 - 09:50

    That would be a shame. Resources and infrastructure are there, use them for a change. Stop your squabbles and get er done. Seems like everything is closing up these days. That is a trend that needs to end.

  • a business man
    May 04, 2012 - 09:39

    The ships should be built in the location that gives taxpayers the best value for money. Why should taxpayers pay more for Canadian labour when we can get the same labour for less offshore. Let build the ships offshore, and prevent and delays caused by NL workers.