Labrador Marine Inc.
For immediate release February 12, 2020
(Happy Valley-Goose Bay) – Severe ice conditions near the St. Barbe coast continue to impact ferry service across the Strait of Belle Isle. The Qajaq W completed crossings on Tuesday, February 11 with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Henry Larsen. Due to a required crew change, the icebreaker is unavailable for escort service on Wednesday, February 12. The icebreaker is expected to return to the St. Barbe area on Thursday morning, February 13 to escort the Qajaq W on its regular run.
Ice conditions for the majority of the distance from Blanc Sablon are normal for early winter, with about two feet of first year ice. The Qajaq W is capable of passing through this type of ice with relative ease. The major current problem is an ice ridge that has formed on the Newfoundland coast outside Anchor Point, blocking access to St. Barbe Harbour. The ridge is 12 to 14 feet high and comprised of ice that is stacked high and kept tight to the coast by southwesterly winds. Environment Canada states it is not uncommon for ridging to exceed 15 to 20 feet. Winds are forecast to ease at times over the next few days.
“The pressure on the ice ridge has been so intense because of the wind that it has been impossible at times for the Henry Larsen to get through to St. Barbe,” says LMI President and CEO Peter Woodward. “If we attempted to get through in these types of conditions, we would damage our ship and risk having it out of service for months. We cannot put the safety of our ship, our passengers, and crew at risk.”
January is typically the start of the winter ice season in the Straits. During January of 2020, the Qajaq W missed five crossings, all due to high winds. The first missed crossings in February due to ice conditions were on February 10. The Qajaq W operated on February 11 with two crossings.
LMI continues to monitor weather and ice conditions and will post updates to its website, to media organizations, and to community leaders along the Straits and south Labrador coast.
For further information, contact:
Peter Woodward, LMI President and CEO