Service crew

The PEI ferry service picks up 5 days after the MV Holiday Island fire

Ferry crossings between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia resumed on Wednesday, nearly a week after a fire in the engine room of the MV Holiday Island ended all ferry services. ferry to and from the island.

The MV Confederation departed the port of Wood Islands, PEI. at 7:00 a.m. AT with 34 vehicles on board — about average for the first trip on a Wednesday morning, according to operator Northumberland Ferries Ltd. It contained 14 trucks, six motorcycles, four motorhomes and about 20 cars.

The Confederacy will be making four round trips a day to begin with, with the last return trip to Caribou, NS departing at 6:30 p.m. AT. Schedules are :

  • From Wood Islands at 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. AT.
  • From Caribou at 8:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. TA.

Northumberland Ferries says it is working on a plan to extend the Confederation timetable to six round trips a day.

The resumption followed five days of no ferry service as the company dealt with the aftermath of the fire. At that time, the only way to get a vehicle in or out of the island was through the Confederation Bridge which connects Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

More than 200 people had to be evacuated from Holiday Island on Friday afternoon as it approached Wood Islands with thick smoke billowing skyward due to a fire in the ship’s engine room .

As of Tuesday night, Transportation Safety Board inspectors were still waiting to gain access to this room to begin the process of determining what was wrong.

A truck boards the MV Confederation on Wednesday. Fourteen trucks, six motorcycles, four trailers and about 20 cars were on board for the 7 a.m. trip to Caribou, NS. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

John Dalziel is a former Transport Canada Marine Safety Inspector who spent 50 years supervising the construction and repair of ships.

He told CBC News that the fact that the fire continued to burn for more than 24 hours despite attempts to extinguish it indicates that something clearly went very wrong.

“If you can seal off the engine room and flood it with carbon dioxide, the fire should go out,” he said.

“The fact that the fire lasted so long suggests that it may not have worked as well as it should have. assess why this happened.”

Transportation Safety Board investigators prepare to board the MV Holiday Island on Wednesday morning. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

Northumberland Ferries and the federal government said they were examining options to replace the ferry.

In 2019, Ottawa announced that it would procure a new vessel to replace the Holiday Island, although this was not expected until at least 2027.

Dalziel said it’s very likely that Holiday Island will never operate again – and finding a replacement ferry won’t be easy.

“Finding a ship that is suitable for these terminals can take some time,” he said. “I hope people think very quickly about the options right now. And there are probably good options.”

Union calls for mental health supports

Meanwhile, Canada’s largest private sector union is calling on Northumberland Ferries to ensure appropriate mental health supports are available for workers involved in disembarking passengers and securing the ship until that it can be towed to the dock for unloading.

Unifor said in a news release on Tuesday that members of Locals 4508 and 4508A, which represent Northumberland Ferries employees, were key to ensuring passengers leave the ship quickly and without serious injury by following safety procedures. emergency.

“We expect the employer to have advisers in place to provide the required assistance to our members and provide all the time outside the work environment to employees who have had to go through such a terrifying situation,” said Linda McNeil, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director. director, said in the statement.

“That every passenger, young and old, including those with mobility issues, and every crew member successfully exited a burning ship is due to the heroic efforts of the crew of MV Holiday Island.”