A broken crane is preventing a cargo ship from delivering essential freight to coastal communities in Labrador.

Nunatsiavut Marine said Monday that the MV Astron had to be taken out of service, but was later on its way to Lewisporte for repairs to the crane.

The company said it was able to unload 90 per cent of the freight from the vessel before the crane broke.

The setback comes as people in communities like Makkovik have complained about scarce food supplies on local store shelves. 

The Astron is expected to arrive in Lewisporte on Tuesday, weather-permitting.

Then it's scheduled to depart on Saturday, with service to Black Tickle, Rigolet, Postville, Makkovik, Hopedale, Natuashish and Nain.

Nunatsiavut Marine said priority would be given to shipping groceries and other essential items.

The company also said the remaining supplies still on board would be delivered to Black Tickle, Makkovik and Postville after the crane is fixed and the ship is put back in service.

The company also apologized to customers for the inconvenience.