Advertisement

New Marine Atlantic ferry Ala'suinu will soon set sail for Atlantic Canada

Marine Atlantic has taken possession of its newest vessel, named the Ala’suinu, which will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China all the way to the waters of Atlantic Canada.  (Marine Atlantic - image credit)
Marine Atlantic has taken possession of its newest vessel, named the Ala’suinu, which will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China all the way to the waters of Atlantic Canada. (Marine Atlantic - image credit)
Marine Atlantic has taken possession of its newest vessel, named the Ala’suinu, which will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China all the way to the waters of Atlantic Canada.
Marine Atlantic has taken possession of its newest vessel, named the Ala’suinu, which will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China all the way to the waters of Atlantic Canada.

Marine Atlantic has taken possession of its newest vessel, which will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China all the way to the waters of Atlantic Canada. (Marine Atlantic)

Marine Atlantic has a new ferry in the water, and it will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China and sail into Atlantic Canada in April.

The Ala'suinu, which means "traveller" in Mi'kmaw, is expected to begin taking passengers between Cape Breton and eastern Newfoundland on the Argentia route beginning in June. It will operate on the Port aux Basques and North Sydney route during the fall, winter and spring.

At 203 metres long, the new ferry has 146 passenger cabins, more than any other Marine Atlantic vessel.

The standout feature is the vessel's energy-efficiency, said Marine Atlantic spokesperson Darrell Mercer.

The ferry uses "dual-fuel" technology, he said. It runs on regular engines and batteries, which work in tandem to reduce the amount of fuel burned.

It's also equipped with liquefied natural gas technology. Liquefied natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than regular marine diesel, said Mercer, but it isn't readily available in Atlantic Canada and shipping it wouldn't be carbon-efficient.

Mercer said the company expects the technology to improve in the coming years and hopes the ferry will be able to use LNG in the near future.

The ferry is also designed with a "silent class," to reduce underwater noise.

"The technologies have improved so significantly over the past number of years that that's incorporated into this vessel, which will be positive for marine life in the Cabot Strait," Mercer said.

A long journey ahead

The vessel is owned by Stena North Sea Limited, a Swedish company that built the ferry in China.

Marine Atlantic is leasing it for five years, after which it will determine whether it wants to purchase the ferry.

Marine Atlantic has taken possession of its newest vessel, named the Ala’suinu, which will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China all the way to the waters of Atlantic Canada.
Marine Atlantic has taken possession of its newest vessel, named the Ala’suinu, which will soon begin its journey from a shipyard in China all the way to the waters of Atlantic Canada.

The new Marine Atlantic ferry is named Ala’suinu, which means 'traveller' in Mi’kmaw. (Marine Atlantic)

In about a week, it will set sail to North America. The Ala'suinu has to travel across the Indian Ocean, around the southern tip of Africa and then to Newfoundland.

Marine Atlantic evaluated the possibility of travelling through the Suez Canal, but due to safety concerns with recent attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the company opted for a longer route, Mercer said.

New features

The Ala'suinu is slightly longer than the Highlanders and Blue Puttees vessels, which are each 199 metres long.

The 146 cabins include 31 pet-friendly cabins and 40 passenger pods, which are smaller and less expensive private rooms. The ship also has accessible seating areas, similar to other Marine Atlantic ferries.

Mercer said the new vessel has many Indigenous themes throughout, including Indigenous artwork, restaurant names and menu selections.

He said the company chose the name Ala'suinu through consultations with its employees and Indigenous stakeholder groups.

"That was really important to us from a truth and reconciliation perspective," he said.

"It recognized the traditional travel between Cape Breton and Newfoundland of Mi'kmaw people as they visited relatives in years past."

Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.