Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced that the replacement vessel for the MV Princess of Acadia, which serves the Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia ferry route, has safely arrived in Saint John.
MV Princess of Acadia was constructed at Saint John Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Ltd. and entered service in 1971, serving on the CP Ships-owned and operated Digby-Saint John route for CP Ships until the service began to lose money by the mid-1970s.
Under the terms of an earlier agreement with the federal government, CP Ships discontinued the service in 1976 and transferred ownership of the vessel to the federal government which created CN Marine (which was later renamed Marine Atlantic) to operate it. In 1986, the ferry service was transferred to Bay Ferries, a subsidiary of Northumberland Ferries Limited, although the federal government remained the owner of the vessel and the ferry terminals.
In 2013 the federal government announced $60 million in funding toward a replacement of Princess of Acadia, and in October 2014 the government announced the purchase from Blue Star Ferries, Greece of Blue Star Ithaki, built in 2000 as a Ro-Ro vessel by Daewoo Industries of South Korea, for about 31 million euros.
MV Canada 2014, as Blue Star Ithaki was temporarily named for the transit voyage, departed from the Port of Piraeus in Greece on November 18, 2014, to arrive in Saint John on December 2. From Saint John, the vessel will make its way to Digby for a sea trial and to undergo a check in its future berth. The vessel will then head to Halifax, where engine work will take place alongside the dock to perform a 72,000-hour engine overhaul and the conversion of the engines from heavy fuel to marine diesel.
The vessel’s introduction into service is expected in 2015.