Nfld. & Labrador

MV Veteran has everyone 'shaking their heads,' says Minister Al Hawkins

The transportation minister says the province is still working with the manufacturer to figure out exactly what is going on with the MV Veteran.
Al Hawkins, provincial minister of Transportation and Works, says he doesn't know how long the Gander pool will be closed. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The Transportation and Works minister says "everyone's pretty much shaking their heads" after the latest mechanical troubles with the province's newest ferry, the MV Veteran.

The $50-million vessel is yet again out of service, after an issue with the port thruster was discovered Sunday night.

The MV Beaumont Hamel is acting as a replacement ferry, operating between Change Islands, Fogo Island and Farewell, until the Veteran is fixed. Air service is also being provided by the provincial government. There is no timeline for the ships repairs.

It's not much point in repairing and within a month having to go back again.- Minister Al Hawkins

"It's very very disappointing, very very frustrating," said Minister Al Hawkins.

Residents told CBC News this week the interruptions in service are disrupting their lives and they're frustrated with the new ferry.

"I can fully understand their frustrations. Living on an island, Fogo Island and Change Islands, and having to deal with that," said Hawkins.

'It really does take its toll'

The MV Veteran is in St. John's for ongoing repairs to its thruster. (CBC)

This is the latest in a string of issues that have forced the ferry out of service since it started sailing December 2015.

In early February, there was a problem with a propulsion unit that forced the Veteran back to St. John's for a full inspection, which lasted for more than a month.

"The last incident we had, it went back on dry dock," said Hawkins. "We had the ferry pretty well tested to make sure the ferry was operating and we had the expertise there to determine that."

It's very very disappointing, very very frustrating.- Minister Al Hawkins

The Veteran was back servicing the Fogo Island-Change Islands-Farewell route March 16.

"Put her back in service and now we have this problem again," said Hawkins, adding the problems "are not something anyone would anticipate."

Damen Shipyards, which built the ferry, has been paying to fix the vessel under warranty.

How long has the new MV Veteran been out of service due to mechanical issues? Check out this timeline 0:44

Hawkins said the province has not discussed extending the warranty.

"We've got to try to work with Damen and try to work through the problems. Again, I don't know to what extent we continue this — obviously it's not much point in repairing and within a month having to go back again," he said.

"It really does take it's toll on the government, having to deal with that because again we are trying to provide that service to the people and it's unfortunate they have to deal with that."

For its part, Damen told CBC News that it, along with engine manufacturer Rolls Royce, would continue to make the necessary repairs to the ferry.

A spokesperson said the ferry has a one-year warranty, but Damen would continue paying for repairs until the ferry "is solid and trustable in operation."


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