A U.S. company that wants to operate a ferry service between Maine and Nova Scotia says it has an agreement to lease a new vessel and could start the service this summer if it is awarded a contract.

Quest Navigation Inc. of Eliot is one of two companies proposing to operate the service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, N.S.

Quest officials say the vessel has 162 cabins, two restaurants and capacity for more than 1,200 passengers.

The other company, Baltimore-based Maritime Applied Physics Corp., is an engineering firm that specializes in designing electro-mechanical systems for harsh environments.

The ferry's former operator, Bay Ferries Ltd., announced in December 2009 that it would cancel the money-losing service after the Nova Scotia government said it could no longer provide an annual $6-million subsidy.

Darrell Dexter's NDP government issued a request for proposals in December for an operator of the ferry service.