Transport Canada: Government of Canada purchases replacement vessel for Saint John-Digby ferry service

October 27, 2014 – Ottawa – Transport Canada

The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport and the Honourable 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 MV Princess of Acadia, which serves the Saint John, New Brunswick to Digby, Nova Scotia ferry route.

A purchase agreement was signed on October 10, 2014 to acquire the MV Blue Star Ithaki from a private ferry operator located in Greece at a cost of approximately $31 million EURO ($44.6 million CAN).

On November 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 MV 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 MV 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 MV 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 MV Princess of Acadia. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has provided approximately $38 million to support this service.


“Our government understands the importance of this ferry service to the local community and economy in support of regional trade and tourism. This replacement vessel will ensure the continued safe, reliable and efficient operation of the service while creating jobs and supporting the local economy.”
The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport

“The Harper government is committed to support communities across Canada. This is why I am delighted to announce that the replacement for the MV Princess of Acadia was successfully acquired through a fair and open process that ensured the best value for Canadian taxpayers.”
The Honourable Diane Finley
Minister of Public Works and Government Services


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