At approximately 7:15pm NL time on Wednesday evening, both the MV Blue Puttees and MV Highlanders became impacted by severe ice conditions off the coast of Cape Breton.
The MV Blue Puttees was en route to North Sydney with approximately 350 passengers and crew on board. The MV Highlanders was en route to Port aux Basques with approximately 450 passengers and crew on board.
Earlier this morning, the vessels undertook manoeuvring activities in an effort to move forward through the ice. Since that time, the MV Highlanders has managed to free itself from the heaviest ice and is en route to Port aux Basques. The MV Blue Puttees has advanced approximately 6 miles and currently sits in the thickest ice approximately 4 miles from the dock in North Sydney. While there is initial progress being made by the vessels, the situation continues to be monitored closely.
The MV Atlantic Vision has been loaded with commercial vehicles and is scheduled to depart port in North Sydney at 11:00am NL time. This vessel has additional ice breaking capabilities and will assist in trying to free the MV Blue Puttees while en route to Port aux Basques.
In addition, the Canadian Coast Guard has dispatched the icebreaker Henry Larson to provide ice breaking services. The vessel set course last night and is expected to arrive at approximately 8:30pm NL time. Marine Atlantic has requested the services of the Coast Guard over the next few days until ice conditions improve in the Cabot Strait.
Customers travelling with Marine Atlantic over the next 48 hours may be impacted by schedule adjustments resulting from these severe ice conditions. For the latest information, customers can visit Marine Atlantic's website, www.marineatlantic.ca or call the toll free reservations line, 1-800-341- 7981.
Marine Atlantic apologizes for this inconvenience and will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
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