The Marine Atlantic ferry MV Highlanders has arrived in Port aux Basques after freeing itself from being stuck in ice off Cape Breton.
MV Blue Puttees, however, has still not made it to its destination of North Sydney.
The MV Atlantic Vision had earlier today been loaded with commercial vehicle and left North Sydney. Marine Atlantic says that vessel has additional ice breaking capabilities and will assist in trying to free the MV Blue Puttees along the way..
UPDATE: Marine Atlantic dispatching third ferry from Nova Scotia
Two ferries stuck in ice off Cape Breton are now moving slowly, MV Atlantic Vision departing North Sydney
Marine Atlantic is dispatching another ferry from North Sydney, N.S., while two ferries stuck off Cape Breton since last night in heavy ice are making slow progress toward their destinations.
The MV Atlantic Vision has been loaded with commercial vehicles and is scheduled to depart North Sydney at 11 a.m. Newfoundland time. Marine Atlantic says this vessel has additional ice breaking capabilities and will assist in trying to free the MV Blue Puttees while en route to Port aux Basques.
Marine Atlantic says its ferries MV Highlanders and MV Blue Puttees are making some slow progress toward their destinations, Port aux Basques and North Sydney.
MV Highlanders has managed to free itself from the heaviest ice and is en route to Port aux Basques.
The MV Blue Puttees has advanced approximately six miles and currently sits in the thickest ice approximately four miles from the dock in North Sydney.
Spokesman Darrell Mercer said earlier this morning, the captains of both vessels were attempting manoeuvring activities to move the ferries through the ice, while waiting for a Coast Guard icebreaker which isn't expected in the area until tonight.
In its latest advisory, Marine Atlantic said scheduled crossings over the next 48 hours could be impacted by the ice conditions and delays.
The parking lot in Port aux Basques is currently closed to commercial drop trailers. The parking lot in North Sydney is closed to all commercial traffic.
Marine Atlantic is asking commercial customers to obtain a sequence number at the ticket booth. It says only those who receive a number will be contacted when the lot reopens. At that time, we will be accepting traffic in sequence number order.
Marine Atlantic ferries stuck in ice off Cape Breton
The Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larsen has been dispatched to assist two Marine Atlantic ferries stuck in thick ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but it’s not expected to be in the area until tonight.
The MV Blue Puttees has been stuck about 10 miles off Cape Breton and the MV Highlanders about four miles off Cape Breton since about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday night when they were attempting crossings between Port aux Basques and North Sydney.
Marine Atlantic spokesman Darrell Mercer said there’s about eight feet of ice in the area, caused by stacking in the recent storm and high winds.
There are about 800 passengers and crew members on both vessels, but Mercer said there are no safety issues at this time and both vessels have adequate provisions for everyone on board.
The ferries also have full capacity of commercial vehicles because the storm this week caused several cancellations, backing up tractor-trailer and commercial traffic between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Mercer said there are about 70 to 90 commercial vehicles on each ferry.
Marine Atlantic is in constant contact with Coast Guard and in the meantime, Mercer said, the captains have reported that they have attempted some manoeuvring activities which have moved the vessels, but progress is slow.
Marine Atlantic @MAFerries recently posted this on Twitter: "Our apologies to passengers onboard, starting at lunch meals for passengers will be complimentary for the remainder of the crossing."
The Telegram will have updates today as they become available.