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Newfoundland and Labrador Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath said it could be early July before vessels can safely navigate. (CBC)

The Department of Transportation and Works says heavy ice off Labrador's northern coast means that ferry services will not start until at least the end of June.

Minister Nick McGrath said it could even be early July before vessels can safely navigate.

McGrath said the freighter Astron is ready to sail, whenever the shipping season starts. 

The MV Northern Ranger will be back on the passenger service, and will have two new engines. 

McGrath said mechanics have not yet finished the installation.   

"We were doing some work on the Northern Ranger. One engine has already been installed, and the second one is on the way. But the Northern Ranger will actually sail with the one engine. Then, while she's sailing, they'll have a team that will be installing the second engine," McGrath told CBC. 

McGrath said the ship uses only one engine at a time. The second engine is meant to act as a backup, in case anything goes awry.

Harsh winter weather caused heavy pack ice around Newfoundland and Labrador's coastlines, often stranding travellers in the past several months.