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Crews work to get fire-damaged Chi-Cheemaun ship-shape for May

Owen Sound Transportation Commission anticipates ferry will be ready to sail May 6
Chi-Cheemaun 2
(Owen Sound Transportation Commission photo)

The Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC) said it’s “working diligently” to have the Chi-Cheemaun ferry ready to sail on May 6, the provincial Crown agency said in a social media post. 

The 111-metre vessel remains in Thunder Bay after fire broke out in the boiler room while the ship was in drydock at the Heddle shipyard, March 12.

Thunder Bay Fire Rescue extinguished the fire with the help of on-board crew. The OSTC said fire damage was contained to the boiler room.

The agency said it does not expect any delays to get the ferry ready for the summer sailing season. “The OSTC recognizes the importance of the Chi-Cheemaun to the local economy, specifically the tourism industry.”

The ferry was in Thunder Bay to undergo scheduled maintenance and its five-year hull marine survey in the dry dock at the time of the fire below deck.

The Chi-Cheemaun is a huge part of the tourism industry on Manitoulin Island and for northeastern Ontario.

The ship sails Lake Huron between South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island and Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula. The service usually starts in early May and runs until mid-October. 

Built in Collingwood, the Chi-Cheemaun entered service in 1974 and can carry 140 standard North American-sized cars and 638 passengers.

Reservations are available to be made for the 2022 season both online and by telephone. 

The OSTC said if there is disruption to the season start date, the agency will be in contact with customers to help with rescheduling or provide a refund. Any schedule changes will be updated through social media channels and the website.