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Ferry on the Way to Boneyard Suspected of Oil Leak in Canadian Port

Canadian RoRo ferry
Vacancier built in 1972 near the end of her life in 2019 in Canada (CTMA photo)

Published Jan 18, 2024 7:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

A derelict, 50-year-old ferry on her way to the boneyard has been identified as the source of an oil sheen and smell that has been plaguing the area around Charlottetown, Price Edward Island, Canada for the past few days. The Canadian Coast Guard confirmed to CBC News in Canada that they are investigating the ferry as the source of the leak and a containment boom has been strung around the vessel.

The incident began over the weekend was residents began complaining oil smell. By Sunday, January 14, reports were increasing with an oil sheen visible in parts of the harbor. The Coast Guard confirms that there has been an oil leak but at this point, they are still investigating to determine the amount of the leak and the type of oil involved.

The Canadian Coast Guard told CBC that it is now investigating the former ferry which had made a port stop in Charlottetown as it was beginning a trip to the scrapyards of India. Renamed Ancier, the 11,400 gross ton ferry had been repositioned from Georgetown on the eastern end of Prince Edward Island to Charlottetown on Friday and was refueling to prepare for its final voyage. The fueling took place on Saturday with the first complaint filed with the local Department of the Environment on Sunday afternoon.

 

 

The ferry was commissioned in 1973 for Viking Line operating for nine years in the Baltic as the Aurella. In 1982, she was sold to Irish Ferries who renamed her Saint Patrick II. She was used as extra capacity during the busy summer season sailing between Ireland and France while in the winter months, she would be chartered to various other operators. That would continue for six years before she was chartered for operations in the Mediterranean around Greece and later from Spain. 

Already 30 years old, the ferry was sold to the Government of Canada in 2002 and after being rebuilt entered service as the Vacancier. She would spend the next 20 years mostly operating from Montreal along the St. Lawrence to the Magdalen Islands near Price Edward Island. The ferry was laid up in 2020 with the onset of the pandemic and officially decommissioned at the end of 2023 when she was sold for scrap.

With her name abbreviated and re-registered in St. Kitts and Nevis, she was being prepared for the end. Recently, the logos were painted out and she was making her final stop in Canada. 

The Coast Guard told CBC that the vessel’s owner has contracted pollution control and a surveyor for the hull. CBC reports divers surveying the hull on Wednesday did not find damage or leaks, however aboard they have identified the suspected source of the leak. The Coast Guard reports that the operator will be removing fuel from the identified tank to prevent further leaks.

The Coast Guard reports they will continue to oversee a cleanup of the area and monitor the shorelines. For the time being, the derelict ferry remains at the dock.