The MV Astron has been operating flat out, when the weather has allowed, running boatloads of freight to communities along the northern Labrador coast.
The ship is now heading into its last run for the season, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation and Works has confirmed.
As The Telegram reported in November, both representatives with the Nunatsiavut Government and Opposition Liberals had raised the question of whether or not all freight would be delivered as planned to communities along the Labrador coast, before ice conditions made it impossible to complete the ferry runs.
The government has confirmed the service will be completed in time.
In addition, The Telegram has learned, the MV Astron is currently picking up a load of wood in Cartwright. That wood is destined for Nain, an area where finding firewood can become a challenge mid-winter.
The wood did not reach the waterfront site at Cartwright before the cutoff deadline for Labrador ferry freight, Nov. 16.
However, the Astron crew, contractor and ultimately provincial government are seeing the wood delivered regardless.
The boat will be leaving Cartwright for Nain, then make a final stop at Black Tickle, before finishing up for the season.
Meanwhile, this morning’s announcement by the provincial Department of Transportation and Works will see dramatic change in the service for Labrador coastal communities by spring 2016, according to minister Paul Davis.
Davis said, with an upcoming request for proposals, the provincial government will be looking to re-couple passenger and freight service for Labrador under a single service provider.
Government will be looking for the service provider to build new roll-on, roll-off ferries to run on both the Strait of Belle Isle crossing and the coastal service. Under what will be a 15-year contract, these ferries will allow passenger cars and transport trucks to drive on and off and move together between communities.
“Providing new multi-purpose vessels will ensure comprehensive service that can address changing industrial, commercial and commuter needs, which is in keeping with the goals of our Northern Strategic Plan,” stated Labrador Affairs Minister Nick McGrath.
The Telegram has contacted the Nunatsiavut Government for reaction to the announcement and will have more in tomorrow’s edition.