MV Saaremaa 1 arrives in Caribou for testing

·2 min read
MV Saaremaa 1, bottom left, is shown beside MV Confederation in Caribou, N.S. The Saaremaa will take over the MV Holiday Island route between Caribou and Wood Islands, P.E.I. ( Patrick Morrell/CBC - image credit)
MV Saaremaa 1, bottom left, is shown beside MV Confederation in Caribou, N.S. The Saaremaa will take over the MV Holiday Island route between Caribou and Wood Islands, P.E.I. ( Patrick Morrell/CBC - image credit)

The ferry that will take over the MV Holiday Island route between Caribou, N.S., and Wood Islands, P.E.I., arrived in Nova Scotia late Friday.

Northumberland Ferries vice-president Don Cormier said MV Saaremaa 1 will remain in Caribou for the next seven to 10 days while it is evaluated, though no date has been set for the ship to begin operations.

Cormier said that during the tests they will be primarily looking into whether the Saaremaa 1 fits its docking facilities.

"There's a slight modification that needs to be done to the ship," he said.

"Subsequent to that, there's a large effort that will be required to train our staff, to train all the crew involved to ensure that these operations are conducted safely. And there's also a few modifications in the passenger areas."

Cormier said the company has taken measurements to ensure the ship can dock in Wood Islands, and that the Saaremaa 1 "aligns pretty well."

Patrick Morrell/CBC
Patrick Morrell/CBC

"There's basically a couple of feet that need to be adjusted somewhere," he said. "We'll undertake all of the necessary drawings and verifications with naval architects, that the fendering that we're putting hanging off the ship doesn't impose any sort of structural issues with the ship.That'll take a little bit of time."

The fendering — which protects the sides of a ship — is expected to begin on Sunday. In the meantime, Cormier said staff began training for service during the ship's journey from Trois-Rivières, Que., on Wednesday.

Northumberland Ferries is also simultaneously working to modify its food services for the equipment on board the Saaremaa 1.

"The next few days will help, then we'll probably be able to be in a position to more closely confirm what date the ship will go in service. But definitely, we're looking at a period of likely over a week," Cormier said.

"It's been well maintained, we're quite positive about the prospects of the ship. But … we take things one step at a time."

The Holiday Island was taken out of service after a fire that caused the evacuation of over 200 people on July 22.

Patrick Morrell/CBC
Patrick Morrell/CBC

MV Saaremaa 1 is owned by Société des traversiers du Québec. It has capacity for 110 vehicles and 600 passengers, compared to the Holiday Island's 155 vehicles and 399 passengers.

MV Confederation, Northumberland Ferries' other vessel, has been making more daily crossings to pick up some of the slack.

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