The province of Nova Scotia is taking possession of the beleaguered Bluenose II, saying it is “substantially complete.”
The schooner has been moved to a berth outside the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic after undergoing restoration for the last two years at the Lunenburg Foundry dock.
Tourists can see the vessel being painted by its newly-hired crew.
“With any capital assets of this nature we reach a point where the project is substantially complete,” said Deputy Minister to the Premier David Darrow at One Government Place, Wednesday. “In this case we have reached a point where the project is substantially complete and so we are taking control of it.”
The vessel still can’t be steered properly because of problems with the heavy steel rudder, which will likely keep it from sailing this summer.
Darrow said it is the government’s hope that further restoration work can be done over the summer, without having to send the schooner back to the foundry.
The original restoration cost was estimated at $14.4 million in 2009, but as of last month it had reached $19 million.
The government has just ordered “a long list” of new parts, which are adding to the cost.
“It’s somewhere between $10,000 and a million,” said Darrow. “I’ve got a pretty good idea what it is, but I’m not going to put that out there.”
The government says taking possession of the Bluenose II at this time does not hinder its ability to seek legal recourse for deficiencies in the construction.
However, Darrow said it does not consider the many problems to be the fault of the builders, instead suggesting there may be design flaws.
“We haven’t established the steering is a workmanship issue,” he said. “We have not established that the steering problem is the fault of the Lunenburg Shipbuilders Alliance.”
The province’s auditor general is reviewing the restoration.