PORT AUX BASQUES – Three decades after it first began servicing the Gulf ferry route, the MV Leif Ericson is nearing the end of its tenure with Marine Atlantic. The ship is preparing for its 30 year survey and will be undergoing drydock and inspection in the weeks ahead according to Darrell Mercer, the Crown corporation’s Communications Officer.
Built in Norway in 1991 for Stena Line and originally christened the MS Stena Challenger, the vessel was purchased in 1991 and re-named the MV Leif Ericson in honour of the 1000th anniversary of his settlement in the province. The Ericson has the smallest capacity of the Marine Atlantic passenger ferries, and predominantly serves to transport commercial traffic across the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
It’s still quite early in the process, but Marine Atlantic is in the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage of securing a new ship to add to its fleet with two proponents, Stena North Sea Ltd. and Rederi AB Gotland.
“We continue to work with Transport Canada regarding our future fleet configuration; however, it is anticipated that the new vessel will replace the MV Leif Ericson,” stated Mercer via e-mail.
“Similar to the process of introducing the MV Blue Puttees and MV Highlanders, Marine Atlantic will be chartering the vessel with an option to buy. The charter period will provide important information regarding the performance of the vessel for our service.”
Marine Atlantic expects the new ferry will enter service some time in 2023-2024. What will happen to the MV Leif Ericson after that has yet to be decided
“Decisions regarding future fleet configuration will continue to be discussed over the next couple of years,” wrote Mercer.