N.L. sues over damage to MV Gallipoli, citing 'negligent' past repair work

·3 min read
The MV Gallipoli, pictured here in 2019, usually provides service on the Ramea-Grey River-Burgeo ferry run but was taken out of service earlier this year. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC - image credit)
The MV Gallipoli, pictured here in 2019, usually provides service on the Ramea-Grey River-Burgeo ferry run but was taken out of service earlier this year. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC - image credit)

A previously troubled ferry is once again out of commission, and its latest problems have the Newfoundland and Labrador government going to court.

The MV Gallipoli provides service to Ramea, Grey River and Burgeo, on Newfoundland's south coast.

But the ship has been tied up since mid-January, after the chief engineer decided it was not safe to operate.

According to court filings, when the engines and generator were disassembled for inspection, "foreign material" was found in the ferry's lube oil system, including rocks, glass, paint chips, sand blast material and wire bristle.

So the province is now suing three companies — Burry's Shipyard Inc., Toromont Industries, and St. John's Dockyard (Newdock) — seeking damages.

There is no dollar amount specified. In court filings, the province is seeking an array of damages for "negligent" past repair work and the costs of a replacement ferry on the south coast run.

The statement of claim was filed at Federal Court in Halifax last week.

None of the government's allegations have been tested in court. To date, no statements of defence have been filed.

Having just learned about this blanket statement of claim, and after reviewing the details, Newdock has no concerns and are confident it will be resolved in our favour. - Paul Antle

Burry's Shipyard Inc. went into bankruptcy in late 2018.

Toromont said it is "unable to provide a substantive reply to [the CBC's] inquiry at this time," noting the matter is before the courts.

Newdock, meanwhile, was unaware of the legal action until company officials were contacted by CBC News.

"Having just learned about this blanket statement of claim, and after reviewing the details, Newdock has no concerns and are confident it will be resolved in our favour," owner Paul Antle said in an emailed statement.

The provincial Transportation Department declined comment, saying it's a matter between insurance companies that is before the courts.

'Abrasion damage' found after testing flagged problems

According to court filings, in September 2017, the province sent the ferry to Burry's Shipyard in Clarenville for a scheduled refit.

While that work was underway, Toromont removed the engines for service and maintenance. The lube oil piping system, which connects to the engines, was left aboard the ship.

Jeremy Eaton/CBC
Jeremy Eaton/CBC

The work at Burry's did not go well, and the province eventually decided to move the Gallipoli to Newdock in St. John's to complete the job.

The ferry re-entered service in 2019 after being laid up for 16 months instead of the expected 90 days. Overall refit costs had ballooned to $10 million from initial estimates of $1.6 million.

According to the government's statement of claim, issues arose in late December, when testing found problems with two samples of lube oil from the ship.

When the engines and generator were taken apart and inspected, "abrasion damage" was uncovered on all the bearing surfaces that were examined.

The Gallipoli was taken out of service in mid-January.

According to the province's ferry schedule website, the 53-year-old swing vessel Sound of Islay is now on the Ramea-Grey River-Burgeo run.

Transportation officials said they anticipate the Gallipoli will return to service this month.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting