Crash punctures ferry between N.L. and N.S.

Marine Atlantic says an accident Tuesday morning has forced it to remove a vessel operating between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland so a puncture can be repaired.

Atlantic Vision taken out of service just before start of Christmas rush

Marine Atlantic says an accident Tuesday morning has forced the ferry service to remove one of the vessels that operates between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland so a puncture can be repaired.

The Atlantic Vision, which has only been in service since April, was making its final approach to the dock in Port aux Basques, in the southwest part of Newfoundland and Labrador, at about 7:45 a.m. NT when high winds smashed the vessel against the dock's fender system.

Capt. Peter Adams, Marine Atlantic's director of fleet operations, said the crash caused a puncture in the stern about five metres above the waterline and minor scraping along the tailfin of the vessel.

The hole is about the size of soccer ball.

Adams told CBC News that northeasterly winds were blowing at about 45 kilometres an hour at the time. As the vessel prepared to dock, however, the winds suddenly escalated to nearly 80 km/h, forcing the vessel into the docking system.

"The force of the wind pushing the vessel in against the dock caused one of the fenders to break loose," Adams said. "As the fender broke loose, it punctured a hole in the hull of the Atlantic Vision."

No one was injured, he said.

"The operational response by vessel crew was appropriate. This incident did not result in any impact to customers or crew on board the vessel."

The Atlantic Vision has been removed from service while Transport Canada investigates, and a damage assessment is being done to determine how long the vessel will be out of service.

Trouble before

This is not the first trouble the vessel has experienced since being acquired by Marine Atlantic.

There were two fires on the vessel — one in its thermal heating unit in December 2008 before it entered the service and another involving the same equipment in late July.

The Vision had to be taken out of service briefly in August, after it veered off course and struck the dock in Port aux Basques, causing minor damage.

On another occasion, it veered off course and struck the bottom of the harbour. At that time, Marine Atlantic said its captains were still getting used to docking the ferry.

Marine Atlantic said travellers who were booked on the vessel for the Tuesday morning departure from Port aux Basques are rebooked on another ship and will be able to leave later in the day.

While the vessel is out of service, the MVs Caribou and Leif Ericson will operate on the run between Port aux Basques and  North Sydney.