Bluenose II rudder dilemma tied to certification company
ABS certification company suggested troublesome steel rudder, says government
Key questions surrounding the rebuild of the Bluenose II may point to why a steel rudder was used instead of the traditional wooden one —a swap some say is the cause for the boat’s rudder problems.
The schooner was supposed to return to regular sailing two summers ago after an extensive two-year rebuild at a cost of $14.4 million, with $7.2 million coming from Ottawa.
But the restoration has suffered from budget overruns and repeated delays, prompting Premier Stephen McNeil to ask the province's auditor general to review the project.
Deputy Minister of communities, culture and heritage, Kellianne Dean said the province has to hold sea trials on the vessel to help determine the repairs that are needed to the troublesome rudder, which has been difficult to turn.
The government said the steel rudder best suits the requirements of the certification company, ABS (American Bureau of Shipping).
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At a Public Accounts Committee hearing on Wednesday, the Liberal MLA Suzanne Lohnes-Croft asked why the government of the day overlooked advice to go with the company, Lloyd’s Register, well-known for certifying wooden schooners.
"I don't believe their advice was overlooked. I believe that we did approach [Lloyd’s Register] but that they were not prepared to do the project and that's why we went with ABS,” said Dean.
CBC News also contacted Lloyd's Register, which seemed to have a different take on why the government went with the ABS company.
They said they bid for the contract and were advised they had lost on price.
CBC News asked the government for an interview to clarify, and received an email instead stating the key factors were “cost and availability.”
“The decision to select the American Bureau of Shipping for this role was made very carefully, and there were many factors considered,” said Glenn Friel, spokesperson for the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage
Right now, the cost of the rebuild sits at nearly $19 million, but that doesn't include $4.2 million in costs being disputed by the province.
The Bluenose II remains at the wharf in Lunenburg and it is unclear when sea trials will begin.