The contract for the new ferry was agreed in February 2015. The expected delivery date was end of August 2016, with an expected operational date of October 2016 at the earliest.
However, close to the end of the project the shipbuilders advised that due to an issue with the delivery of parts for the main engine, the ferry would be delivered five weeks later than planned.
Following delivery of the ferry in October, during due diligence and commissioning checks by the Department an issue was discovered regarding the ferry vehicle ramps. This required modifications to be made to those ramps. Work to complete these modifications is currently underway and discussions are ongoing with the shipbuilder to resolve this issue under the terms of the contract.
While the Department regrets the delay to the new service, health and safety issues must always take priority. The MV Strangford II will enter service as soon as a Passenger Certificate has been issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. We expect this to be early in the New Year.
Until then, the current ferry remains fully operational continuing to service the local community, sailing every 15 minutes during timetabled hours. There is also a backup vessel available if required.
The Minister wants to ensure the new ferry comes into operation as soon as possible and will continue to keep the situation under review.
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