More ferry costs
Problems persist for the Veteran and Legionnaire
ST. JOHN’S, NL — The MV Veteran is back in dry dock in St. John’s after running afoul of some ice that damaged its hull, and a look at the government’s routine public tendering exception disclosures shows more costs associated with the province’s two new ferries.
The government bought sole-sourced thruster propellers and other equipment from Rolls Royce for the Veteran and Legionnaire at a cost of $120,101.47, plus a $13,777.96 vac pump for the Veteran.
The government also spent $35,196 in ship security, and $24,185.14 in St. John’s harbour dues for the time last fall when the Legionnaire was tied up here before going into service, awaiting upgrades to the Bell Island and Portugal Cove ferry terminals.
The province also paid $63,366.60 in pilotage fees for the Legionnaire.
When it comes to the dry dock repairs currently underway for the Veteran, Transportation Minister Al Hawkins said that the Veteran is currently in dry dock because of damage caused by the unusually heavy ice off the northeast coast.
“See, they’re ice-class but they’re not icebreakers,” Hawkins said.
“We had to be very, very careful. The ice conditions were just terrible, actually.”
Tory MHA David Brazil, who represents Bell Island and was in government when the ferries were purchased, said that because they’re brand new, there’s a learning curve.
“This boat is much heavier than what they’ve been used to. So guys are coming in full steam to try to get into the dock, and coming in to push ice away,” Brazil said.
“My understanding is this is one of those unique ones, that there was a heavy piece of ice that had apparently got grounded, and when it struck, there’s no give in it.”
As for the thrusters, that was a separate incident where some debris was kicked up and sucked into the mechanism, causing damage, Hawkins said.
Again, Brazil said this is a function of getting used to the new boats.
“See, the thrusters on that are so powerful that one of the biggest issues at the time we had to be cognizant of was making sure we did enough dredging in port areas,” he said.
“If they grab into (harbour debris) with so much power to suction, if the skipper is putting on his thrusters to turn or reverse, all that suction is pulling and grabbing at whatever is there.”
Plagued with problems
The latest costs come after a whole whack of issues that caused problems when the vessels were first delivered.
They were bought from a Romanian shipyard at a cost of about $50 million each, but there have been a raft of problems, including a small fire on board the Veteran shortly after it entered service.
New Democrat Leader Earle McCurdy said it seems like the government bought the wrong boats; especially for the short Bell Island run.
“It’s a fairly high-end boat in terms of the finishings and so on, but boy, they don’t seem to be all that suited to our geographic problems,” McCurdy said.
Hawkins wouldn’t totally condemn the vessels, but he said the government needs to make do with what it’s got at this point.
“You know, when you’re given a lemon, you try to make lemonade,” he said.
The MV Veteran is shown in St. John’s harbour in 2016.