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King, Pingree Call for Naval Ship to Make Nova Scotia Ferry Route

PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine is asking the U.S. Navy for a ship to ferry tourists between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

The request comes as the ferry’s new operator, Bay Ferries Ltd., says it hasn’t found a suitable boat.

“Ferry service between Portland and Nova Scotia is a significant economic driver for the region and the state,” King says in a statement Thursday. “It supports commerce, brings new travelers to the area, and ultimately, helps create good-paying jobs for Maine people. I will do all that I can to help the City of Portland position itself to resume the service as soon as possible, including advocating on the City’s behalf to the U.S. Navy to explore vessels that could be put toward that use.”

King and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District had a conference call with Navy officials about the possibility in December.

In a press release, Bay Ferries says it is competing with other operators for a suitable boat, but the company is keeping other details under wraps.

The service is important to tourism on both Nova Scotia and Maine. Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling says the service provides big benefits for the city, including 50 jobs in the port area.

The ferry’s operations over the last two years were turbulent under its previous operator, Nova Star Cruises. The Nova Star ferry was seized last fall while the company found $3 million to pay vendors. It left Portland Harbor in December.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.