An important milestone in the construction of a new ferry for the Fogo Island-Change Islands run took place at a shipyard in Romania on Friday, with the launching of the 80-metre MV Veteran.

Video from the event shows workers chopping into large ropes, and the Veteran slipping sideways into the water.

The $50-million vessel is expected to sail for Newfoundland and Labrador in August, and arrive sometime in the fall. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation and Works said the Veteran is expected to commence her service in early November.

The Veteran is one of two identical ferries being built by a Dutch company called Damen Shipyards Group.

The other, MV Legionnaire, will serve the Bell Island ferry route. It is expected to be launched sometime in July.

Both are described as "Super A1" ice class vessels, capable of carrying up to 200 passengers and 60 vehicles.

Icebreaking capability a big advantage

The pending arrival of the MV Veteran is generating plenty of excitement on Fogo Island, said Maureen Lynch, who chairs the Fogo Island Transportation Committee.

She said the current vessel, the Capt. Earl W. Winsor, is more than 40 years old and is prone to breakdowns.

Lynch said her only complaint about the new ferry is that she was unable to attend last week's launch.

"It's going to make a big difference," Lynch said of the MV Veteran.

She said the fact it is reinforced for travel through ice is an important advantage, reducing the dependence on Coast Guard icebreakers.

When asked if the new vessel will improve the quality of life on Fogo Island, Lynch replied: "Big time."