September 30, 2004

Spirit of Ontario is impounded

U.S. District Judge Michael Telesca has ordered that the ferry Spirit of Ontario be locked down in Rochester, N.Y.

The judge acted in response to a lawsuit by fuel supplier Amerda Hess, claiming nore than $370 in unpaid bills and seeking a maritime lien on the vessel.

Ferry operator CATS (Canadian American Transportation Systems) suspended service between Rochester and Toronto three weeks ago, citing financial problems, after only 80 days in operation.

Meantime, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson as saying there'll be no decision on resumption of the service "until well into next week, at the earliest."

The newspaper says Johnson and CATS had expected Australian financial backers to announce as early as today whether they believe the ship should resume service on Lake Ontario. But in a statement released Wednesday, Johnson said confidential negotiations are continuing.

Australia's Export Finance and Insurance Corp. and ABN AMRO bank are deciding whether the ferry project is a viable business and should continue operating between Rochester and Toronto, says the newspaper. CATS also has been meeting with potential private investors to provide enough cash to restart the service.


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