Canada purchases new Saint John-Digby ferry

The following is the text of a news release from Transport Canada:

(OTTAWA) (Oct. 27) — The Honorable Lisa Raitt, minister of Transport, and the Honorable Diane Finley, minister of Public Works and Government Services, today announced that the government of Canada has entered into an agreement for the purchase of a ferry vessel to replace the M/V Princess of Acadia, which serves the Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia ferry route.

A purchase agreement was signed on Oct. 10 to acquire the M/V Blue Star Ithaki from a private ferry operator located in Greece at a cost of approximately $31 million euros ($44.6 million Canadian).

On Nov. 27, 2013, the government of Canada issued a public notice for the planned purchase of an existing ferry on Following an extensive evaluation process, which involved identifying and assessing the suitability of candidate vessels from all over the world, including Canada, the M/V Blue Star Ithaki was selected as representing the best value for Canadians and having the capacity to meet the operational requirements of the Saint John-Digby ferry service. The vessel’s introduction into service is expected in 2015.

Upon arrival of the vessel in Canada, modifications will need to be made for the vessel to meet Canadian safety regulations and compatibility with existing shore-based infrastructure and operation in the Bay of Fundy.

Quick facts

The M/V Blue Star Ithaki is a Greek-flagged roll on-roll off (ro-ro) passenger ferry vessel built in 2000 by Daewoo Industries. It is in excellent condition with at least 20 years of useful life remaining. A ro-ro vessel is designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as automobiles, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars that are driven on and off the vessel on their own wheels.

The M/V Blue Star Ithaki is 124 metres in length and 19 metres in breadth, with a cruising speed of 20 knots. It has modern onboard amenities and segregated car and vehicle decks.

The Saint John-Digby ferry service is operated year-round by Bay Ferries Ltd. (BFL), using the Transport Canada-owned M/V Princess of Acadia. Since 2006, the government of Canada has provided approximately $38 million to support this service.

By Professional Mariner Staff