The most widely shared post on this site is my story of the second ship to be called the MV Abegweit.
There is a more recent story of forced early retirement for Marine Atlantic ships sold and scrapped too soon. The MV Caribou and MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood entered service in 1986 and 1989 respectively. Both vessels sailed the route between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador. In the summer, the Smallwood would work between North Sydney and Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Both ferries have been described as reliable and safe. Even in the harshest ocean conditions they faced, they were trusted carriers of persons and cargo.
Both ships were retired less than a year apart between 2010 and 2011. In August of 2011 they were sold and sent off to the scrapyard in Alang, India. According to Marine Atlantic, “one condition of sale included a commitment that if either buyer decided to recycle the vessels, it would be done at a yard with full green recycling facilities in compliance with IMO guidelines.”
Anyone who is familiar with the stories of Alang, are aware of its’ high profile of alleged brutal labour and environmental practices. This leaves a reasonable doubt as to whether the purchasers allegedly kept up to their ends of the sales agreements.
Many have argued these ships were forced into early retirement when they could have sailed at least another ten years. Having sailed on the Caribou in 1996, I was in amazement at the ships’ size and power. On the trip back to Nova Scotia, I carved out a sleeping spot near the lounge and arcade. The winds were a bit heavy that night but you felt as if you were being cradled by the ship, being carried to calmer waters.
The Caribou and Smallwood were replaced with the MV Blue Puttees and MV Highlanders. Initially on lease agreements, the new ferries were purchased in 2015 by the Canadian government at 100 million dollars each.