The image of a newish ferry in May on a reopened service between Portland Maine and Yarmouth Nova Scotia was initially a mystery to me then I recognised the quasi-LD Lines signature colour scheme.
This otherwise quite elegant looking vessel Nova Star 27,744,’11 has had a chequered start to her career. Ordered by Frances’ LD Lines from St Marine Shipyard, Singapore, and named Norman Leader she was designed for overnight and day service initially between Portsmouth and Le Havre with 1,215 passengers, 160 berths, and with 1,500 lane metres of vehicles. But for no clearly explained reason I’ve heard despite bearing their name and livery LD did not take possession.
Her speed I have seen listed as 19 knots, which seems low for a vessel of her type, but whatever the reason she languished for many months on the world-wide sale and charter market. It was in March this year she departed Singapore for Canada via Sri Lanka and the Suez Canal, arriving in Yarmouth NS chartered to Nova Star Cruises to commence service in early May. I wish her well and I hope she finds her niche.
Only US flag ships can operate in US waters, only US companies can build, own and operate US ships and with US personnel. The Nova Star can only serve into Portland under the Bahamian flag as she is on international service, outside USA waters to and from Canada. This is in marked contrast to UK and increasingly world-wide ferry operation where ships are sourced usually wherever they can be built for a competitive - ie the lowest - price, often to the detriment of domestic shipyards, and they can be flagged, owned and manned by foreign nationals.
The Jones Act has certainly helped preserve shipyard skills in the USA and a recent announcement from the Pacifi c Northwest has seen the merger of Vigor Industrial with Oregon Iron Works to make a larger industrial conglomerate in shipbuilding and engineering. Vigor has a heritage absorbed from the Kaiser and Todd yards of Puget Sound ports. They recently took over Todd Pacifi c’s operations in Seattle, Bremerton, and Everett and in 2012 they acquired Alaska Ship & Drydock in Ketchikan, Alaska.