Nonia ferry sold for $76K after millions spent on refit

A controversial ferry that spent much of its time in service docked for repairs is now being scrapped to actually become a dock.

Vessel now in process of being scrapped in St. Mary’s Bay

The Nonia now sits in Mount Carmel, St. Mary’s Bay, where it is being scrapped. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

A controversial ferry that spent much of its time in service docked for repairs is now being scrapped to actually become a dock.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government sold the Nonia for $76,222 earlier this year, after sinking millions into refit costs in the months before deciding to decommission the ship.

The Nonia is now being scrapped at a facility in Mount Carmel, St. Mary’s Bay.

It’s an ignominious end for the vessel, which was acquired for $1.2 million in 1999 by the then-Liberal provincial government.

The Nonia, which was built in Estonia, was expected to be in service within two years, at a total cost of less than $3 million. Instead, it took five years and $11 million, according to a report by Newfoundland and Labrador's auditor general.

The Tories have made a habit of mocking the Liberals for the purchase over the years, even as they continued to pour millions more into the ship.

Last summer, a refit of the Nonia was initially projected to cost $1.4 million.

But those estimates would later balloon. By February, when the government announced its decision to finally pull the plug, roughly $3 million had been spent.

In March, then-transportation minister Paul Davis said that ongoing work revealed more problems — problems that would have cost millions more to fix, leading to the decision to cut their losses.

In total, the government poured nearly $20 million into the Nonia over the years.

At a media event Monday where he announced a contract to build a new ferry for the Bell Island run, Transportation Minister Nick McGrath said it was time to move on.

"I think we got beyond it when we moved forward and realized that it wasn't necessary to continue having it in the fleet," McGrath said.

"We got beyond it there and we moved forward. And that's why we're called a progressive government, because we're very progressive in our movements."

Nonia sold by tender

Miller Shipping Ltd. of St. John’s bought the Nonia. The successful bid came in at $76,222.

The ferry has since been moved to the company’s location in Mount Carmel.
Miller Shipping Ltd. of St. John’s bought the Nonia for $76,222 in a provincial government tender process. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

“We’re going to cut it down, just scrap it out, and we’re going to use it as a work platform, that’s all, as a dock,” president Pat Miller told CBC News.

Miller said that everything above the deck is totally scrapped out, with just the shell left.

Copper and ferrous metals from the ship are being processed and sold.

Miller said he hopes to have the Nonia scrapped entirely in 2014.

“We got the boat for a fairly good price. I could see making a dollar out of it. There is a risk involved in buying an old vessel like that. There is,” Miller said.

“We just kept our commitment and bought it, took possession of it and moved it out of the harbour, tout de suite. So we didn’t want it to become an eyesore or anything either.”