UPDATE: Argentia ferry service suspended at least two weeks

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Vessel will be out of service until late August, Marine Atlantic says

Marine Atlantic announced late Thursday afternoon it will have to suspend ferry service from Argentia for at least two weeks in order to address capacity issues following yesterday’s accident involving the MV Blue Puttees.

The MV Atlantic Vision will switch to the Port aux Basques-North Sydney route while the Blue Puttees undergoes dry dock repairs in Halifax.

Marine Atlantic said moving it to the other route would double capacity on the Atlantic Vision due to a shorter crossing time. It said that would help transport more travellers displaced as a result of Wednesday’s incident.

As it was preparing to dock Wednesday morning, the Blue Puttees ran aground in Port aux Basques. It returned to dock at approximately 5 p.m., according to Marine Atlantic.

The company said the vessel’s bulbous bow was damaged. The Blue Puttees is expected to remain unavailable until late August.

Refunds will be offered to those affected by the changes, with re-bookings available through the Port aux Basques-North Sydney route. Marine Atlantic will also provide travel vouchers for passengers to use for future trips for those with delays exceeding 13 hours, and complimentary meals will be offered to those delayed by four to 13 hours.

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(Earlier story)

Marine Atlantic says underwater inspections of the MV Blue Puttees by divers have determined that the vessel has sustained some damage to its bulbous bow, a piece of equipment used for vessel operating efficiency.

“While the vessel’s integrity has not been compromised and is able to sail, the bulbous bow must be repaired in accordance with regulatory requirements,” Marine Atlantic said in an updated news release this afternoon.

As a result of this information, Marine Atlantic said it plans to sail the vessel to Halifax to allow dry dock repairs to take place, once it has been released by authorities.

Unfortunately, Marine Atlantic said, based on the current analysis, it is estimated that the vessel will be unavailable for service until late August. Once the vessel is in dry dock, a clearer picture of potential timeframes will become more apparent.

The removal of the vessel from service will affect Marine Atlantic’s sailing schedule for the coming weeks. While three vessels will remain in service, Marine Atlantic said the removal of the capacity offered by the MV Blue Puttees will result in challenges.

A revised schedule is currently being drafted. Customers will be contacted through Marine Atlantic’s customer contact system with updated sailing times. Marine Atlantic said customers will be provided with as much notice as possible to allow their travel plans to be adjusted.

It has also issued an apology for this inconvenience and is thanking affected passengers for their patience. Further updates will be provided as additional information becomes available.

In a news release early Thursday morning, Marine Atlantic said an investigation into what caused Wednesday’s incident involving the MV Blue Puttees becoming grounded in Port aux Basques is continuing.

However, it said it’s not aware of information suggesting mechanical issues with the vessel.

“The purpose of the investigation, involving outside agencies such as the Transportation Safety Board, is to determine the exact cause and those agencies are just getting underway,” the release stated.

All passengers with reservations from Wednesday night and Thursday were rebooked with revised crossing times on the MV Atlantic Vision, MV Highlanders and MV Leif Ericson.

 

(Earlier story)

Marine Atlantic says an investigation into what caused Wednesday’s incident involving the MV Blue Puttees becoming grounded in Port aux Basques is continuing this morning.

However, in a news release, Marine Atlantic said it’s not aware of information suggesting mechanical issues with the vessel.

“The purpose of the investigation, involving outside agencies such as the Transportation Safety Board, is to determine the exact cause and those agencies are just getting underway,” the release states. “Further inspections on the underwater section of the vessel to determine the amount of potential damage that may have been experienced will be done this morning.”

All passengers with reservations from Wednesday night and today have been rebooked to revised crossing times on the MV Atlantic Vision, MV Highlanders and MV Leif Ericson and Marine Atlantic says all of these passengers have been contacted.

It says there will likely be further adjustments to sailing times in the coming days and passengers will be contacted in advance of their sailings with revised information.

Marine Atlantic said it thanks affected passengers for their patience. Further updates will be provided as additional information becomes available.

A slideshow of photos of the MV Blue Puttees after it ran aground in Port aux Basques can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, MV Blue Puttees, Transportation Safety Board MV Atlantic Vision

Geographic location: Port aux Basques

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • Howie
    August 04, 2013 - 10:03

    It's an island, we're always going to need a ferry...bridges and tunnels and out of the question...this isn't Dubai. You don't want to be on any of these boats longer than you have to. The longer you're on the boat the more change something is going to go wrong. If PAB is the closest point then spend some money improving the size of the harbour. I know it's mostly rock but we do know how to blast rock! Most important, the federal government has got to stop be cheap and buying second hand boats from Europe. Build them in Canada specifically for the run they have to make. In this case the Cabot Strait. I've traveled the gulf for 30 years and the best years were with the Caribou and the Smallwood. From '87 until the boats were retired and scrapped you didn't hear all of these negative comments in the media except for a very rare occurrence.

  • Peter Rowsell
    August 03, 2013 - 12:08

    Why does everyone want to crucify the people of Port au Basque when questions come up about service? Bigger ferries mean longer dock waits. It only lowers the Ollie per passenger cost for Marin Atlantic. What is needed are smaller faster, mor seaworthy vessels. Someone knew this and that is why the "twins" we're disposed of so quickly. I don't want to pay more money to be at sea longer. The two hour road trip from PaB to Corner Brook would be seven on a ferry. If thy really wanted to do something they would put on hovercraft as we're used on the English Channel and use ships for heavy trucks.

  • Murray
    August 02, 2013 - 11:26

    I Have been traveling back and forth to NFLD from Ontario for the past 23 years and always woundered why the Ferry didn't go to Corner Brook instead. Every time I arrived In PAB at about 10:30 at night , I would dread the drive to Corner Brook . I felt like I was putting my life at risk because of the poor road conditions . If I had a vote it would be to move M/A to Corner Brook ,Hands Down . why don't the goverment ask the people what they want, or are they afraid of what the answer might be. My wife and I were stuck on the ferry last year because of high winds and we were not even aloud to leave the ferry for two days. we had to buy all our meals from MA at their prices. It was the worst crossing I had ever had and I have had a few in the past 23 years.

  • Dawn
    August 02, 2013 - 08:50

    Perhaps if the boat is just too large for Port Aux Basques, they should look at Corner Brook. It would cut a couple of hours off the drive time to St. Johns if Corner Brook becomes the new port. We always take the PAB route due to the high cost of the Argentia run, but it would be a welcome change to only have to drive from St Johns to Corner Brook.

  • Mac white
    August 02, 2013 - 07:26

    The reason it stays in Port Au Basque is simply called 'dinosaur politics',and everybody knows that all the big cruise ships should visit Port Au Basque too,instead of Corner Brook,yea right......only in good old Newfoundland,so sad!!!

  • AM
    August 01, 2013 - 20:34

    Just cancelled my yearly trip to St. John's due to this recent event with Marine Atlantic. I was stranded for more than a week last year because the ferry broke down and MA offered me nothing for my troubles except to reroute me to PAB which was impossible due to my circumstances at that time...not taking the chance of facing similar troubles this year...there are no flights from my location to St. John's and I do not have the time to make the trip from PAB to St. John's....This will do wonders for tourism! Major delays and screw ups during peak season two years in a row....maybe Ill make it over there next year after I build a sturdy raft to shuttle myself across the gulf...and that would probably be a safer and more efficient option.....

    • Debbie
      August 02, 2013 - 08:25

      I have been trying unsuccessfully to call Marine Atlantic to find out about us getting back to North Sydney on Sunday August 4th. We have flights, hotels and a slew of concerns on this. NO One at Marine Atlantic is responsive, it is totally disrespectful. Does anyone have any ideas on who to contact. We have left messages on all available voice mail machines and sent emails. Frustrated is Not the word I would use... just want to get back home!

    • Gerard O'Leary
      August 29, 2013 - 21:51

      ".maybe Ill make it over there next year after I build a sturdy raft to shuttle myself across the gulf...and that would probably be a safer and more efficient " Don't do that, Marine Atlantic might file a compaint against anybody who circumvents their service monopoly.

  • robert
    August 01, 2013 - 18:05

    Reading your comments today only lets me know what kind of people stop NL from going forward.You mention rate hikes and everyone gets involved. The mention of Corner Brook is old news. If you want to look at distance of the run one can only vote for Argentia being ice free year round and no more time then it would take to go into Corner Brook. Also most of the good delivered across end up on the Avalon. Just some food for thought.

  • Karen
    August 01, 2013 - 16:18

    It could have been so much worst.We should be thankful no one was hurt or killed. Those ships are too big for PAB harbour that's for sure but moving to Corner Brook is not the answer.Lord knows there is enough complaining now about the cost of crossing the gulf,can you imagine what it would cost if it moved to Corner Brook.First of all we need ships designed for these waters which the ships we have are not.With the right kind of ship weather or docking would not be a problem. Again Just be thankful it wasn't worst.

  • sc
    August 01, 2013 - 15:50

    Just a quick couple of questions. Why would Marine Atlantic buy a ferry that was too large to dock safely at Port aux Basques which is the port the ferry would be required to serve? Second, does anyone know how often this ferry ran aground while it was in service with Stena Lines in Norway? It's too bad Marine Atlantic went to the effort of improving the quality of its ferries but not that of the crews required to run them.

  • T
    August 01, 2013 - 12:27

    Why send the vessel to Halifax??? We have a Dry Dock here in St. John's!!!!!!!!!!

    • starrydays
      August 02, 2013 - 11:02

      The dock in NFLD doesn't have the capacity to lift this ship out of the water - it can only accomodate smaller/ lighter vessels. The drydock in Halifax is larger and can lift more weight

  • david
    August 01, 2013 - 12:21

    I could not believe my eyes yesterday, reading the litany of comments fixated on whether MA opened up the kitchen for free food or not. This $230 million boat almost got sunk, and the "Newfoundlander" in everyone wondered --- exclusively --- how many free burgers they might get and stuff in their purse. Incredible.

  • Kojack
    August 01, 2013 - 12:18

    About time M/A move the departure port to Corner brook where you can turn around the CN tower and not hit either side. bringing the ferrys into P.A.B. is DUMB. Time for M/A to wake up. they have huge ships trying to turn around in a harbour the size of two parking lots!....time for change!

  • Jack
    August 01, 2013 - 12:07

    After the Blue Puttees mishap yesterday and the negative consequences associated with it including service delays, crossing changes, diminished service, and longer ferry restoration times, now we know why ferry accidents should not be allowed. As for the navigation crew responsible for this accident, since the accident had nothing to do with mechanical and technical problems, hope they will face some job action including suspensions without pay for a month. I know I'm being blunt, but since Marine Atlantic's reputation is already tarnished due to unreliable service, fires, accidents, and major mishaps, but yet, we face one rate hike after another every year, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are fed up with this Crown Corporation's poor service and track record.

  • Wake up
    August 01, 2013 - 11:27

    When are we going to wake up in NL? The only major link to mainland Canada is via Marine Atlantic. With ever increasing demand and increasing ferry sizes to meet the demand PAB is a vestigial relic to our past . We have outgrown this port both economically and technologically. This entire operation should be moved to Corner Brook. A larger port facility and more centrally located as the economic hub of western northern and even central Newfoundland......period. The past is the past we must evolve and change with current times! Wake up governments !

  • david
    August 01, 2013 - 08:25

    "Marine Atlantic...We're Changing!"