P.E.I. to Nova Scotia ferry service resumes after steering problem fixed

·2 min read
MV Saaremaa beside the MV Confederation. Northumberland Ferries had reduced its sailing schedule for Monday, but the crossings were back to normal by 3:15 p.m. Monday. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC - image credit)
MV Saaremaa beside the MV Confederation. Northumberland Ferries had reduced its sailing schedule for Monday, but the crossings were back to normal by 3:15 p.m. Monday. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC - image credit)

Ferry service between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia returned to normal Monday afternoon with two vessels operating.

The service was down to one ferry after the MV Confederation experienced electrical problems Sunday with its steering and was out of commission.

Passengers who boarded the ferry Sunday at 8:30 a.m. AT were stuck on board for approximately eight hours after the ship dropped both anchors just off Caribou, N.S. The vessel returned to its berth Sunday evening with the help of a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, and passengers were able to leave.

Northumberland Ferries vice-president Don Cormier said the majority of people who were stranded on the ship boarded the other ferry to continue on with their trip to P.E.I.

He said engineers worked overnight to fix the MV Confederation.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

"We did an extensive series of detailed inspections and tests, we also completed an underwater survey, which confirmed there was no damage to the ship," said Cormier.

He said sea trials also went well and Transport Canada approved the vessel's return to service, which was up and running by 3:15 p.m. Monday.

About 50 vehicles were on its first crossing.

Some passengers on the P.E.I. side reported longer than usual waits for the service, while some complained they didn't see any notices about the delays.

"Now I'm a few hours delayed. I just wish I would have been further informed, that would have helped," said Ann Mefford, who is from Massachusetts and is travelling through the Maritimes.

She said when she checked the ferry website, she didn't notice a message about any delays.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Northumberland Ferries said there was a notice on its website and passengers with reservations were notified by email or text.

"We certainly apologize for anybody who was not aware of the circumstances," said Cormier.

TSB also investigating

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada, or TSB, has deployed a team of investigators to look into the incident, saying in a release Monday it "will gather information and assess the occurrence."

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail transportation occurrences for safety, not to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

The Confederation is one of two ferries operating between Caribou and Wood Islands, P.E.I. MV Saaremaa 1, the ship that was brought in to replace MV Holiday Island, started service two weeks ago.

The Holiday Island has been out of commission since late July after a fire in the engine room caused extensive damage to the ship. More than 200 people had to abandon ship.

Cormier said safety is the company's priority.

"We believe we offer an extremely safe mode of transportation," he said.