Marine Atlantic purchases MV Blue Puttees, MV Highlanders

Marine Atlantic announced Tuesday that it has purchased the MV Blue Puttees and MV Highlanders, the two vessels that have been providing ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia since 2011.
Marine Atlantic announced Tuesday that it has purchased the MV Blue Puttees (pictured) and the MV Highlanders for $100-million each. (CBC )

Marine Atlantic announced Tuesday it has purchased the MV Blue Puttees and MV Highlanders — two vessels that have been providing ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia since 2011.

The vessel purchase is part of a $375-million investment into Marine Atlantic that was announced last month by the federal government.

Marine Atlantic says the purchase, at a cost of $100 million per vessel, will allow the Crown corporation to solidify its fleet for the future.

The remaining money will be used to cover the operating subsidy, and for other capital projects.

"We are very excited with this announcement and the benefits for our customers," said Paul Griffin, Marine Atlantic's president and CEO. 

"These vessels will provide positive results for Marine Atlantic's service for years to come." 

Both vessels have been chartered from Stena for the past four years, serving the Port aux Basques-North Sydney route.

The original deal in 2010 was for a five-year charter, with the option to extend for another five years, or purchase the vessels outright.

In early February, Marine Atlantic announced it had renewed the lease for the MV Atlantic Vision until November 2017, at a cost of some $40 million.

Tuesday's announcement builds upon a previous five-year, $521-million funding commitment announced in 2010 aimed at renewing Marine Atlantic's fleet, and upgrading shore-based infrastructure and business processes. 

The investment resulted in improved vessel reliability, and increased vehicle, cabin and seating capacity.

This new funding will see that momentum continue into the future, said Griffin.

"Our fleet's performance has demonstrated our vessels are well-suited to meet the needs of our service," he said.

"Since 2011, customer satisfaction rates have increased by almost 20 per cent, on-time performance has improved to 90 per cent, and the time it takes to recover from weather delays has been cut in half."