NFL Ferry Holiday Island Fire

Photo Greg Britton via FB Nova Scotia fire /Emergency/Info

The Northumberland ferry Holiday Island is on fire at Wood Island PEI. The ferry crosses between NS and PEI, and was bound for PEI when the fire broke out.

The Holiday Island is a double ended (double pilot house) passenger and vehicle ferry
built in 1971 at Port Weller Dry Dock, St. Catherines, Ontario for Canadian
National Railways. The vessel was designed to service the Cape Tormentine, NB to
Borden, PEI crossing prior to construction of the confederation bridge.

The 51 years old vessel is now owned by Transport Canada and operated by
Bay Ferries Ltd and services the Caribou, Nova Scotia to Wood Island, PEI crossing.
The vessel operates eight months of the year from May to December.

A replacement was included in the 2019 federal budget.

MarineTraffic seem to show the vessel was on the NS – PEI leg of the trip, and is stopped outside the harbour. Reports from facebook are that lifeboats are being deployed. given the ship is outside the harbour, it suggests the fire is in a machinery space, as opposed to a car – if it was a car, docking the ship and gaining access to shore based resources would be smart.

Given the ferries location, I’m going to guess they ran it aground. Given the drive arrangement, that means the hull is probably compromised.

Photos posted to facebook shows Marine Evacuation System deployed. This system was installed in 2020, and replaced open air lifeboats. once in the raft passengers were taken ashore by local fishing vessels. The MES is basically a airplane style evacuation slide with a large detachable raft at the end. the raft can then be moved away from the vessel with the ships FRC.

Photo Jonathan Jessome via FB Nova Scotia fire /Emergency/Info

Yesterday the Holiday Island suffered a technical issue that delayed sailings.

Temperatures today are 28, with 74% humidity. Humidex of 38. Fun day to fight a fire.

Update via the CBC: The FIRE IS OUT and there are no injuries according to Don Cormier at Northumberland Ferries.

This is now a salvage operation.

UPDATE 07/22 1332: JRCC Halifax has issued a series of tweets. “At 11:17 am, JRCC Halifax received a distress call indicating that the Northumberland Ferry “Holiday Island” suffered a fire in their engine room and subsequently ran aground. Search and Rescue aircraft from 14 Wing Greenwood, and Canadian Coast Guard Vessels are on scene and have safely disembarked 182 passengers. 18 Crew and 7 local firefighters remain on board to fight the fire. Local fire, police & paramedics are on scene. As all passengers have been taken ashore, local authorities and the ferry operators are responsible for any updates. SAR assets will remain in place to assist if required.”

A CCGS Fast Rescue Craft and an RCAF C130 were noted to be in the area.

UPDATE 07/22 1435: NFL Statement also confirmed on twitter that all people and pets are safe.

UPDATE 07/22 1605 : A Passenger has posted a gallery of photos

UPDATE 07/22 1945 : It looks like the Holiday island has ungrounded itself. There were likely tugs in assistance, just not visible on AIS. This is good, as it suggests my damage assessment from the grounding was overly pessimistic.

The other ferry on the run, Confederation has also made it to Wood Islands.

The Coast Guard has tweeted about this.

UPDATE 07/22 21:40: just saw a reddit post suggesting the boat was on fire again as of 19:00. zooming in it looks like a more smoke then running the engine and another comment suggesting the vessel was still on fire at 18:00, and a helicopter was sling loading equipment to the ship.

CBC reporter noted at 17:45 the NFL clarified that the fire was contained, but not out.

UPDATE 07/23 00:22: Tug Svitzer Bedford looks to have sailed from Point Tupper around 10pm.

UPDATE 07/23 0140: someone near the ship tells me that the ship is still grounded, and firefighters have been withdrawn due to safety concerns. Svitzer Bedford is almost on scene, and is equipped with fire monitors, so they may be transitioning to an external attack.

UPDATE 07/23 1300:

Photo posted at CBC from this AM.

the ferry was moved pulled by a tug to deeper water last night on the high tide to enable the confederation to operate. NFL has cancelled service for Sunday, and is not taking further reservations. In a statement, they confirmed that the ferry is still on fire, and that firefighters were removed from the ship at 9:30 last night. They also confirmed that an environmental response team is standing by. the release also included the line “It is uncertain at this time if we will be able to recover vehicles and return them to their owners. ” – which suggests they are planning for the loss of the vessel.

CCGS photo tweeted by TC.

UPDATE 07/23 1400: My Guess is the ship may have used a CO2 extinguishing system to flood the engine room and put out the fire. They work great, but you need to keep the space closed and full of CO2 untill things can cool down, or you can have a rekindle.

The txt below was sent to passengers this morning.

UPDATE 07/23 1715: Latest from NFL.

The fire is still burning. “The tug Svitzer Bedford, which has some firefighting capability, has been able to apply some boundary cooling to the sides of the ship and car decks. The environmental response organization, ECRC, has been able to deploy a boom around the ship as a precautionary measure.”

“the current plan under consideration would be to tow the ship into Wood Islands harbour during high tide with two tugs and to secure the ship in berth. Once secured in berth, firefighting crews would attempt to finally extinguish the fire.” This is a sound and reasonable plan. Putting out the fire will be much easier if the ship is at the dock, and crews have easy access with hoses and equipment. The Next high tide is at 8:01 tonight, followed by 7:01 tomorrow morning.

Holiday Island was carrying 83 vehicles on the two car decks of the ship. NFL noted a lack of rental cars and hotel rooms complicating passenger accommodation.

UPDATE 07/23 20:50:

The coast guard released some imagery of boundary cooling being applied – the Holiday Island also has a noticeable list. The ship was not moved to the pier on this evenings high tide.

CCGS M.Pearley, a fisheries sciance vessel, and CCGS Cap Spray, a 45’MLB are on scene

UPDATE 07/24 1000: the CCGS Molly Kool is now on scene. Statement from NFL. the fire looks to be out, and the ship was moved alongside on the high tide this morning.

UPDATE 1545: Vehicles are now rolling off the ship. some required tow assistance.

Additional images via the CCGS on twitter.

UPDATE 07/25 1440:
Ferry service remains suspended. NFL hopes to resume service with MV Confederation on Wednesday, the 27th. Confederation will do 4 round trips/day Departing Wood Islands: 07:00,  10:00,  13:30, 17:00 and Departing Caribou: 08:30, 11:45, 15:15, 18:30”

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10 thoughts on “NFL Ferry Holiday Island Fire

  1. Matt M

    Wonderful that everyone is safe.

    Vehicle capacity is listed as 155 ( +/- transports?)
    Passengers: 370 (max)

    Going to be a very, very interesting few days ? at Wood Islands getting those tourists’ vehicles sorted out and unloaded.
    This will be a massive undertaking.

      1. Matt M

        That was my thinking essentially.
        It’s all sandbars, but the channel is constantly being dredged and it very narrow at the best of times.

  2. Bill J.

    Could you by any chance post a bigger/full version of that general arrangement drawing. It’s too small for me to read the details.

      1. Bob

        Hey there. Me again. Sorry the way these moderation things work is funny and sites like Youtube put my guard up. It’s hard to know what is going on with things these days.

        Thank you for uploading that full general arrangement. I really do appreciate that. Sailed on both the Holiday Island and Vacationland (back in the cape Tormentine days), as well as the Abegweit II.

        Sad to say it’s probably game over for the Holiday Island though. I just can’t see them spending the money to fix a ship that was already on the way out.

        1. Peter Post author

          i have to moderate – way to much spam.

          I agree, shes sailed her last trip. she would need new engines and electrical would be my guess.


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