— Photo courtesy of Howard Peer, Philadelphia
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) was not the only federal agency to lose money in a failed shipbuilding venture in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The fishing vessel Arctic Leader remains under construction, unfinished since 2004.
As The Telegram reported Feb. 21, a partnership between A.M.P. Fisheries and Terra Nova Marine Co. — known as M.E.D. Enterprises — was provided $450,000 by ACOA to help build the ship.
That was before the partnership fell apart.
In April 2008, A.M.P. filed a legal claim against Terra Nova Marine. The other company responded in kind.
M.E.D. Enterprises ultimately defaulted on its ACOA loan.
As it turns out, the National Research Council (NRC) also contributed to the project. Specifically, the contribution went to project partner Terra Nova Marine.
“The company had a contribution agreement with NRC starting Jan. 8, 2007, which ended March 31, 2009,” a spokeswoman for the federal entity stated in an email response to questions.
“In the end, the firm received $491,287.”
The Telegram asked if there were any partners to Terra Nova Marine listed on the file, but was told details of agreements — including partners — are considered confidential business information.
Terra Nova Marine filed for bankruptcy in October 2012. The majority of creditors on the file have claims of less than $10,000.
Yet listed creditors include ACOA, with a claim of $400,000.
The single largest creditor is Terra Nova Marketing — a sister company to Terra Nova Marine, operating out of the same building in Donovan’s Industrial Park. It has a stated claim of almost $447,000.
Total claims against Terra Nova Marine run about $1.2 million.
Meanwhile, the Arctic Leader can now be found in Burin.
It remains unfinished, according to Rex Simmonds, president of A.M.P. Fisheries and a former partner to Terra Nova Marine on the boat project.
Despite Terra Nova Marine’s bankruptcy, his differences with his former partner, Steve Whitten, president of Terra Nova Marine, still remain.
“I lost a million dollars, actually $1.2 million myself in the boat. Now you take somebody losing $1.2 million and — I never declared bankruptcy. I managed to absorb it over the years,” he said.
“It was pretty difficult times.”
Simmonds said he attempted at one point — after the ship partnership dissolved — to find a way to finish the Arctic Leader and get it working for him as a fishing vessel.
“I asked the bank. I said, well you’re going to have to give me enough money to finish the boat, and they said no. Well, I said, if you don’t give me enough money to finish the boat you can have the boat back,” he said.
“The bank took the boat back.”