FREDERICTON (CNB) – Another milestone has been achieved in bringing a new ferry to Grand Manan.

The 82-car Grand Manan Adventure was officially launched today in Panama City, Florida, where it is being built by Eastern Shipbuilding Group. Workers will continue construction and complete the vessel's interior. Construction is on schedule and on budget.

"The launch of the ferry is an important next step in the construction of this type of vessel," said the Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claude Williams. "Once the work is complete, the ship will undergo rigourous sea trials before it begins its final journey to New Brunswick in May."

The province is investing $65 million (U.S.) – including $14 million (Cdn.) in the 2011-12 capital budget – in the construction of the vessel.

At the moment, two ferries operate between Blacks Harbour and Grand Manan. The Grand Manan, built in 1965, is nearing the end of its service life. It operates from late June to September. The Grand Manan V, built in 1990, operates all year.

The new ferry will operate year-round; the Grand Manan V will become the summer ferry. As a result, the daily vehicle capacity in the summer will increase to 1,000 from 630, and the daily vehicle capacity in the winter will increase to 640 from 480.

"The arrival of the Grand Manan Adventure will be a cause for celebration on the island, and I am looking forward to welcoming the ferry along with the people of Grand Manan this spring," said Williams. "This is a historic moment for Grand Manan, and it will contribute to greater economic growth opportunities and a better travel experience for residents and visitors alike."

More information about the Grand Manan Adventure and a video of today's launch are online.

LINK:

●    Grand Manan Adventure: www.grandmananadventure.com