The Nova Star.
By Tina Comeau
The chair of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, who was also a member of the evaluation committee that reviewed the proposals for renewed ferry service in Yarmouth, says the deadweight issue that keeps dogging the ferry identified for the Yarmouth service is a non-issue.
Last week a provincial media outlet published a story saying that the ferry STM Quest Navigation intends to use on the Yarmouth ferry run was flagged for deadweight issues by another company that previously refused to purchase the ferry.
But Keith Condon says the issue has been looked at, studied and dealt with since that happened and, as far as he is concerned, it’s in the past.
In March 2011, ST Marine, the shipyard in Singapore, received a letter of termination from LD Lines regarding the ferry called the Norman Leader, which the company had contracted in July 2007 for around $179 million. The company alleged there was a deficiency in the deadweight capacity of the vessel.
The Norman Leader is to be christened the Nova Star for the Yarmouth ferry run.
Deadweight of a vessel refers to how a vessel sits in the water when you take passengers, fuel and cargo into account.
Condon says the committee, his group and the province heavily researched the issue, both during the evaluation process and when the ferry partnership and the provincial government attended a shipping conference in Rotherdam in the spring.
“It’s an old story that is being resurrected,” he says. “It’s an issue that is not an issue.”
After LD Lines first contracted the ship, the world economy changed, leaving some to wonder if the company was looking for an excuse to get out of its contract.
Condon believes from the research he’s done, that someone miscalculated the weight of the vessel from the start, which left no room for any give or take when it came to deadweight.
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Deadweight is not a stability issue, he says, but it would have spoken to how much cargo the vessel could have carried.
Which is another reason why he has no concern. He says the vessel had originally been built with the intention of cargo accounting for 85 per cent, whereas on the Yarmouth run, cargo would only account for around 10 per cent. Plus the ship is being converted into an overnight vessel with more cabins, which means less cargo anyway, he says. Therefore the deadweight for a Yarmouth to Portland run would be less than what the ship may have originally been intended for years ago.
“It’s a non-issue. It was dealt with in our selection process, prior to the selection process, and it was dealt with during the process. We’re well aware of it,” Condon says, adding, “And by the way it wasn’t just us. We had hired marine engineers and experts with a lot of experience to review this file and to actually go with us to the conference to make sure we were hearing it right and it was interpreted right, so it wasn’t just a bunch of guys from Yarmouth. It was done professionally.”
As for the company that will run the ship, Steve Durrell, the chief operating officer for Quest Navigation, says they are not in a position to comment in detail until after the final agreements with the vessel are in place. But what Durrell will say at this point is, “We can only comment on matters that relate to our specific operating needs. We have reviewed all aspects of the BO619 vessel and concluded that, technically and commercially, the vessel meets all of our requirements for operating the Nova Star Cruises ferry service.”