The Nova Scotia government formally took possession of the Bluenose II on Wednesday, even though the schooner is still not ready to sail following a costly and yet-to-be completed restoration.
David Darrow, the deputy minister placed in charge of the Bluenose II file by Premier Stephen McNeil, said the vessel was moved from the Lunenburg Foundry dock to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg.
The Bluenose II was berthed for the past two years at the Lunenburg Foundry dock, where it underwent a restoration marked by delays and cost overruns. The project has encountered numerous problems, including issues with its rudder and steering that will likely prevent it from sailing this summer.
Despite that, Mr. Darrow said the project is considered “substantially complete” and that’s why it’s been handed back to the province.
He said the government hopes that work on the vessel’s steering will be completed once some new parts are delivered.
“Our hope is that work can be done where the vessel now rests,” he said. “I can’t give you a 100-per-cent yes that’s what we are going to do, but that would be our hope.”
Mr. Darrow wouldn’t say how much it would cost for the new parts.
When the restoration was announced in 2009, the provincial government at the time estimated it would cost $14.4-million. As of June, costs had reached $19-million, and Mr. Darrow said that hasn’t changed.
Mr. Darrow said the province will try to recover the costs for any deficiencies found in the restoration after the results of a review of the Bluenose II are done by the province’s Auditor-General.
“We will make a determination of who we believe to be responsible for some of the deficiencies, including the steering issue, and at that point in time we will develop our legal strategy.”
Adjustments to the steering are needed to help turn the 3,200-kilogram steel rudder that was installed by the project team in order to meet certification standards.
Mr. Darrow said he is troubled that the project is over budget and hasn’t been delivered on time.
“I’m anxious to find out what the reasons are for that and it’s the Auditor-General’s report that will hopefully give me those reasons,” he said.
That report is expected sometime in the fall.
The Bluenose II, launched in 1963, is a replica of the original Bluenose, a Grand Banks fishing schooner that earned worldwide acclaim for its graceful lines and speed.