Following successful attempts earlier today to free itself from the thick ice being encountered off the coast of Cape Breton, Marine Atlantic is reporting that the MV Highlanders arrived in Port aux Basques at approximately 2 p.m.
Marine Atlantic said in a press release that the vessel would be unloaded and prepared for a 6:30 p.m. departure to North Sydney.
With ice-breaking assistance from the MV Atlantic Vision, which is currently en route to Port aux Basques, the MV Blue Puttees was also reported to be moving again and was scheduled to reach North Sydney at 4:30 p.m.
The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Henry Larson is expected to arrive in the area at 8:30 p.m. and will provide icebreaking services through the next couple of days.
Customers travelling with Marine Atlantic over the next 48 hours may be impacted by schedule adjustments resulting from these severe ice conditions and can obtain the latest sailing information on Marine Atlantic’s website, www.marineatlantic.ca or by calling 1-800-341-7981.
About 800 passengers and crew are stranded on a pair of Marine Atlantic ferries are stuck in ice outside of Cape Breton.
The Blue Puttees, which was headed for Nova Scotia, is stuck about 20 kilometres outside Cape Breton. The Highlander, which was enroute to Newfoundland, is stuck about 10 kilometres off shore of Cape Breton.
A communications person for Marine Atlantic said ice conditions in the Cabot Strait piled into the Sydney harbour during the recent storm. The ice has stacked up to eight feet thick, he said.
There is some hope the vessels can use maneuvering techniques, or if the wind changes in the right direction, to free themselves. However, it appears they will remain there until the icebreaker Canadian Coast Guard vessell Henry Larsen can get there later this evening.