New northern Labrador ferry — named for Inuit sled — could be tourism boost
Cargo and passenger capacity get a boost on the Kamutik W when it starts sailing in June
The new vessel set to service Labrador's north coast, the Kamutik W, is scheduled to first set sail in June after being overhauled inside and out.
Named for an Inuit sled designed to travel on snow and ice, the ship has had two custom ramps installed to service the seven ports it will be visiting.
"It's a tool that Labradorians have used for centuries to move people and goods along the coast. So, we thought it was a very appropriate name for a new ship that's coming," Peter Woodward told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.
Compared to the aging MV Northern Ranger, which launched in 1986, and the 47-year-old Astron, the Kamutik W is just eight years old. The roll-on and roll-off ferry, built in Norway, will replace both a cargo ship and a ferry service.
The vessel is an ice-class 1A ship built for northern climates, and Woodward added they have employed a cruise ship fabricator to help refit the 80 cabins on board, including two reserved for wheelchair accessibility and three VIP cabins.
"There aren't a lot of ice-class ships built. There are certainly not a lot of ice-class ships that are built by Norwegian yards," he said.
"It's a very efficient, very good design ... We're getting a ship that travels at 13 knots that will burn one quarter of what the fuel that was burned on the Astron."
Along with being a relatively young vessel, with the new boat comes increased capacity for both cargo and passenger carrying.
"This vessel will actually have four times the freight capacity that they've had in the past," Woodward said.
"It will do twice as many trips to the coast. It will call every port, with the exception of Nain which is at the end, twice a week."
A maximum of nine tractor-trailers can be carried by Kamutik W as cargo, and the vessel will carry twice as many passengers — up to 300 people — as the MV Northern Ranger, Woodward said.
As for travel cost increases, Woodward said there's no indiction that fares will go up but government is currently looking into pricing.
Hopes for increased tourism
Woodward believes the Kamutik W will be a great opportunity for campers, hikers and tourism in general.
The ferry will operate under a first-come, first-serve basis with most cargo trailers booking well in advance. However, passengers can also reserve space.
"If you want to go to Nain and spend a week in Nain you can take your vehicle or R.V. with you. Same for Makkovik, Postville, Rigolet, all of those places," he said.
However, Woodward added, the ferry is there for the communities first.
"This is a very heavily subsidized service by the provincial government, so the first priority goes to making sure the needs of the coastal communities are met," he said.
- A previous version of this story referred to the ferry as the Qamutik W, but the correct name is Kamutik W.Feb 22, 2019 5:27 PM NT