© â€” Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Transportation and Works minister Paul Davis speaks at news conference on plans for the province's ferry system.
New custom-built ferries will be added to the existing fleet in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Department of Transportation and Works announced this morning.
The new ferries will enhance service in the Strait of Bell Isle, Fogo Island and Change Islands, and a "swing vessel" will be used for all ferry-dependent communities when regular vessels are being serviced.
The government will issue a request for proposals for construction of a swing vessel and a new vessel for Fogo Island and Change Islands. According to a news release from the Department of Transportation and Works, despite months of negotiations with Peter Kiewit International about possibly construction the swing vessel in Marystown, no agreement was reached.
Following is some background information courtesy of the Department of Transportation and Works:
The Request for Proposals to Construct a 42 Metre Vessel and a Replacement for theMV Captain Earl W. Winsor:
The Provincial Government initiated vessel replacement by establishing a list of ferries to be constructed:
Three 42 meter vesselsA large vessel to replace the MV Captain Earl W. Winsor that services Fogo Islandand Change IslandsSix small scale ferries â€“ five to serve communities on the south coast of the island, and one to serve the Charlottetown â€“ Norman Bay â€“ Williamâ€™s Harbor â€“ Port Hope Simpson run in Labrador.
The Provincial Government began work on vessel replacement by awarding a contract in 2008 to the Peter Kiewit Sons Co. (now Peter Kiewit International) facility in Marystown. The contract engaged the company to construct two 42 metre ferries, with each ferry having the capacity to accommodate 16 cars and 80 passengers. The Request for Expressions of Interest process used by government to award the contract revealed that the Kiewit facility in Marystown was the only facility in the province capable of constructing ships of this scale.
In March of 2011, construction of these two vessels was completed at a total cost of $27.5 million each, and the vessels were christened the MV Grace Sparkes and the MV Hazel McIssac in honour of two strong and influential women in Newfoundland and Labradorprovincial politics. The MV Grace Sparkes was put into service for the communities of St. Brendanâ€™s and Burnside. The MV Hazel McIssac was put into service for Long Island and Little Bay Islands.
After these vessels were completed, the Provincial Government intended to have Peter Kiewit International construct a third 42 metre vessel at its Marystown facility that would be similar to the first two. However, after the MV Grace Sparkes and MV Hazel McIssacwent into service, the company approached the Provincial Government for additional compensation for these vessels. Negotiations about additional compensation would remain unresolved, however in May of 2012, the company agreed to discuss terms for the construction of a third vessel and seek out additional compensation in another set of negotiations.
Discussions with the company about the construction of a third 42 metre vessel did not produce acceptable terms, and the negotiation process continues to delay vessel replacement.
In order to advance vessel replacement efforts while also maintaining the possibility of building ferries within the province, the Provincial Government will issue an RFP for the construction of a 42 metre swing vessel and the replacement of the Fogo Island / ChangeIslands ferry. The RFP will be issued in the coming weeks, and proposals will be accepted for a period of 90 days. Peter Kiewit International can still submit proposals to this RFP, and the Provincial Government encourages the company to do so.
The Request for Proposals for Combination Passenger/Freight/Vehicle Ferry Services for the Straits and for Coastal Labrador:
At present, ferry services for the Strait of Belle Isle and for coastal Labrador communities are provided by a combination of two privately owned vessels and two vessels owned by the Provincial Government, which are operated by two contractors:
The ferry service across the Strait of Belle Isle is currently contracted to Labrador Marine Inc., which provides the service with the MV Apollo, a vessel it owns and operates. The MV Apollo is capable of taking passengers and vehicles, but the only freight it accepts comes aboard in transport trucks. The MV Apollo will be under contract until January 2013. The Department of Transportation and Works intends to continue this service by issuing a tender for a ferry contract that will last until 2016. This vessel is supported by the MV Sir Robert Bond in the winter â€“ a vessel owned by the Provincial Government, but operated through a contract with CAI Nunatsiavut Marine.Passenger service for communities on the coast of Labrador is provided by the MV Northern Ranger, which is owned by the Provincial Government and operated by CAI Nunatsiavut Marine. The vessel has limited freight capacity, and no capacity to take vehicles.Freight service for communities on the coast of Labrador is contracted to Labrador Marine Inc., which provides the service with the MV Astron, a vessel it owns and operates. The MV Astron is strictly a freight vessel - it does not take passengers.
The Provincial Government is seeking a single contract for all Labrador ferry services, and will require contractors to provide services with new, custom built, ice-class vessels that can take passengers, vehicles, and freight.
The Department of Transportation and Works will issue a Request for Proposals to secure such an arrangement, and is arranging the contracts for existing services to conclude by 2016. This will give the timeframe necessary to allow contractors to build new vessels to serve Labrador.
The RFP will be issued in the coming weeks, and proposals will be accepted for a period of 90 days.