In just over a year, a brand new and long-awaited ferry will be put into service for Fogo Island and Change Islands, in Notre Dame Bay. 

On Friday, Minister of Transportation and Works Nick McGrath was joined by residents of Fogo Island and Change Islands to celebrate the keel-laying of the new $51-million ferry.

The laying of the keel formally signifies the beginning of construction, and is traditionally celebrated. 

A video of the Aug. 20 event at Damen Shipyards in Romania, where the ferry is being built, was broadcast at Friday's ceremony on Fogo Island.  

McGrath said the laying of the keel marked a "significant milestone" toward the introduction of the new ferry. 

nl captain earl w winsor ferry fogo island 20131014

The Captain Earl W. Winsor, now more than 40 years old, has been the main ferry on the Fogo Island and Change Islands route. (CBC)

"There is a sense of excitement among residents, as we look ahead to the arrival of the new, modern and capable ferry which will begin servicing the area in just over a year from now."

The ferry will be an 80-metre ice-class vessel that has roll-on, roll-off capability and will accommodate up to 200 passengers and 60 vehicles. 

As a brand new vessel, the Newfoundland and Labrador government says the ferry will also provide a more reliable passenger experience and will have increased capacity for operating in challenging ice conditions.

Residents on Fogo Island and Change Islands have endured recurring transportation issues for the past number of years, mainly due to aging ferries.

The ferry is expected to be delivered in September 2015.