The federal and provincial Governments of Newfoundland & Labrador are spending nearly $6 million on the historic ferry Sound of Islay so that she can return to the intra-provincial ferry fleet as a swing vessel.

It was announced at the end of January 2017 that the province will contribute $3.98 million towards the rehabilitation of the ferry, while the federal government will add a further $1.98 million.

The ship, which was built in 1968, was taken out of service in 2015 after an annual refit discovered she was in poor condition.

Sound of Islay was the first ro-ro ferry on the west coast of Scotland. She was built for Western Ferries in 1968, and served Islay and later on the Campbeltown-Ballycastle (Northern Ireland) route. In 1981 she was sold to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and still operates in eastern Canada.

The refit is expected to begin soon and involves replacing a sizable chunk of deteriorated steel in the boat’s hull. Passageways will also be widened, facilities modified to improve accessibility and a new electrical switchboard installed.

Sound of Islay is the only vessel in the intra-provincial ferry fleet that can operate out of all 24 ports on the island, thus making it a valuable asset to the province.