‘There’s a profound sense of sadness:’ Crew to say farewell to P.E.I. ferry after decision made to scrap vessel
CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Ferry workers who were aboard the MV Holiday Island when an engine room fire broke out this summer will be given an opportunity to say goodbye to the ship.
Northumberland Ferries Ltd. (NFL) announced earlier this month that Transport Canada, the owner of the ferry, said the ship was beyond repair and was being scrapped.
“This ship has been around for more than 50 years (as a PEI ferry) so at the end of the day we will just be hosting a private event for our staff, specifically the crew who were there that day of the fire,” Mark said Wilson, senior vice president of Northumberland Ferries Ltd., to SaltWire Network on October 24.
No date has yet been set for the farewell.
The company had also considered inviting the public on board to say their goodbyes, but decided against it due to the damage to the ship from the fire.
The ferry’s final crossing ended on July 22, 2022 with a fire and the evacuation of all passengers and crew. She has since been moored at the terminal in Wood Islands.
Transport Canada is now inviting a call for proposals to dispose of the ferry.
“These weren’t the premises I would have thought of for the vacation island retirement,” Wilson said.
“There are so many Islanders and people from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick who have worked on this ship. “There is a strong bond. It was hard for some members of the NFL team to see that happening to the ship. There’s a deep sense of sadness.”
In an Oct. 21 email to SaltWire Network, Hicham Ayoun, senior communications consultant at Transport Canada, said the successful bidder has until Nov. 30 to remove the vessel from its Wood Islands berth.
Until then, Northumberland Ferries Ltd. welcomes any inquiries from groups such as the PEI Museum and the Heritage Foundation that may be interested in specific memorabilia on the ship.
Wilson said the company is working with Transport Canada to remove items like the ship’s bell, wheel and plaques.
“I’m glad they reach out to us when there are some organizations that might have a sentimental attachment to things.”
Once the successful contractor takes over the resort island, they take ownership of everything on board.
“In this type of contract, any recyclable material becomes the property of the contractor, who may, at their discretion, recycle items or sell them to third parties,” Ayoun added.
Wilson said Northumberland Ferries Ltd. remains committed to operating the PEI-Nova Scotia crossing as a two-vessel service.
In August she secured the MV Saaremaa 1 on loan from a company in Trois-Rivière, Que.
Wilson can’t say for sure if the Saaremaa 1 will come back.
“It’s an option that we’re negotiating right now, so it’s one of several options,” Wilson said in late June leading up to Thanksgiving weekend. I have strong indications that we can get a second ship back next year.”
Transport Canada is scheduled to replace Holiday Island with a new ship in 2027.
This leaves Northumberland Ferries Ltd. a five-year window to maintain a two-ferry service.
“We work closely with Transport Canada,” Wilson said. “I would even go so far as to say that we are taking a leading role in finding short- and medium-term options until a new ship is built.”
Did you know?
Below is the history of MV Holiday Island:
- Construction was completed in April 1971.
- Joined the Borden-Carleton, PEI, to Cape Tormentine, NB ferry service in June 1971.
- Was owned by the federal government from 1971 to 1979, by CN Marine from 1979 to 1987 and by Marine Atlantic from 1987 to 1997 on the PEI to New Brunswick crossing.
- When the Confederation Bridge opened in June 1997, Transport Canada acquired the vessel for use on the Wood Islands, PEI, to Pictou, NS crossing.
- On July 22, 2022, a fire breaks out in the engine room. Transport Canada announces in October that the ship is beyond repair and will be scrapped.
Dave Stewart is a reporter at the SaltWire Network on Prince Edward Island. He can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @DveStewart.