The ferry link between the Labrador Straits and the Island of Newfoundland is a perennial concern to the residents of the Labrador Straits as well as to the thousands of tourists who visit the Straits every year. It is for this reason that three Engineering students from Memorial University are hoping their concept design for the Strait of Belle Isle ferry will be taken seriously by the provincial government.
Evan Martin, Heather Brown and Jessica Coffey, students in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, collaborated on a concept design for a ferry that could handle the winter ice in the Straits area and still be able to accommodate the summer tourists and regular users, including the transportation and shipping industry.
The concept design being completed will be capable of handling the capacity of the current vessel, the MV Apollo.
Included in the design is a plan for tourist amenities on the main deck, including an expanded gift shop and cafeteria. In order to accommodate the growing demands on this route, a second vessel may be required during the tourist season.
This report, completed in July, is the culmination of a semester’s work for the three students, and represents the first part of a two-semester project. The project will be completed at the end of the upcoming winter semester with the issuing of a final report.
“This project was tremendously rewarding, as it has practical value and has the potential to drastically improve an essential transportation link for the people of Southern Labrador,” said Evan Martin, the project leader.
The request to design the ferry came from a workshop organized by the Harris Centre, in partnership with the Labrador Straits Development Corporation and the Southeastern Aurora Development Corporation, held in May 2006.
Dag Friis, professor of Engineering and supervisor of the team, concluded that it’s time for government to seriously look at new ferries for this region.
“The Apollo has outlived its useful life and was even aged compared to normal ship life expectancies, when it was purchased from the Baltic for use in the Straits. Our conclusion is that, for the type of class you need for the Straits, you can’t find an existing ship like it, you have to build one. If the people of Southern Labrador want year-round service, then a new ship is the answer; two even better!”
The students and their professor hope that their report will encourage the provincial government to build a new vessel in the province, in support of the local shipbuilding industry.