What might the new Digby-Saint John ferry look like?

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on July 15, 2014

Princess of Acadia

©FILE/ Riley

The replacement vessel for the Princess of Acadia could be a much smaller vessel.

The vessel search parameters that Transport Canada is using to identify a suitable vessel to operate the Digby—Saint John ferry service requires a length of 85 metres or longer and a passenger capacity including crew of 399 or more.

The Princess of Acadia is 150 metres in length and can carry 650 passengers.

Last June Peter Mackay and several other Conservative MPs announced the federal government’s commitment to buy a replacement ferry for the Digby—Saint John run.

[Digital timeline for the history of the Digby-Saint John ferry ]

The vessel search parameters were part of a Public Notice of Ferry Purchase (PNFP) released Nov. 27, 2013.

The PNFP did not invite proposals per se, but allowed for written responses identifying vessels, which fit the search parameters outlined in the PNFP.

The government was also to scan “the domestic and international market, including by searching Internet Databases”.

Transport Canada is looking for a vessel at least 24 years younger than the Princess. A replacement vessel must have a construction date of 1995 or more recent.

The new ferry should have at least 300 metres of total lane capacity, 200 metres of which have to be wide enough to hold tractor trailers.

Like the current vessel, the new one will have a twin screw propulsion system, run off marine diesel, and have both a bow and stern door and ramp.

 It should have a cruising speed of 15 knots.

The tentative project schedule outlined in the PNFP says Transport Canada wanted to finish the identification of candidate vessels by Jan. 3, 2014.

They hoped to have selected “the most suitable vessel” by May 31 and were hoping for delivery of the replacement vessel to Canada by July 31.

The PNFP set target dates of Dec. 31, 2014 for completing any modifications and refit of the new vessel and Feb. 28 for training of the crew.

Under that timeline the vessel would to be ready to go for the end of March 2015.

The Princess of Acadia has been in service on the Bay of Fundy since 1971 with room for 155 cars and 33 tractor trailers.

Transport Canada owns the vessel and Bay Ferries Ltd., a private company, has the contract to operate the service until March 2015.

Transport Canada and Public Works spokespersons were not able to report the status of the project by press time today.