MV Caribou

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Name: MV Caribou
Owner: Government of Canada
Operator: Marine Atlantic
Port of registry:  Canada St. John's
Route: Channel-Port aux BasquesNorth Sydney
Ordered: 1984
Builder: Davie Shipbuilding
Laid down: 1984
Launched: 1985
Christened: 1986
Completed: 1986
Maiden voyage: 1986
In service: 1986
Identification: IMO number: 8301876
Status: In service
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Gulfspan class icebreaking ropax ferry
Tonnage: 27213 GT (gross tonnage)
Length: 172.76 m (567 ft)
Beam: 24.99 m (82 ft)
Draught: 12.19 m (40 ft 0 in)
Ramps: shore-based bi-level ramps
Ice class: Lloyd's 100A1, Northern Baltic 1A Super
Installed power: 4 × MaK 8 cylinder diesels
combined 20600 kW
Propulsion: 2 propellers
2 bow thrusters
2 stern thrusters
Speed: 22 kn (40.74 km/h) (maximum)
15 kn (27.78 km/h) (service)
Capacity: 1200 passengers
370 cars, 77 trucks
1,800 m (5,906 ft) lane metres
Crew: 108 (summer), 68 (winter)

The MV Caribou is a Marine Atlantic passenger/vehicle ferry which operates between the islands of Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island in eastern Canada.

Caribou is named after the woodland caribou which graces the coat-of-arms of Newfoundland and Labrador and roams the forests of the island of Newfoundland and its mainland area of Labrador. MV Caribou is also named in memory of her predecessor the SS Caribou which was sunk off Port aux Basques by a German U-boat on October 14, 1942 with the loss of 137 passengers and crew.

Entering service in 1986, she was built by Versatile Davie in Lauzon, Quebec, and is specifically designed for the 96 nautical mile route across the Cabot Strait between North Sydney, NS and Channel-Port aux Basques, NL.

A roll-on, roll-off design with a bow visor, the MV Caribou has 2 vehicle decks and 5 decks above, the main passenger deck being Deck 5. She measures 179 metres in overall length and 25 metres in breadth, weighing 27,212 tons. Her capacity includes 1,200 passengers and 370 automobiles or 77 tractor trailers. She has up to 106 crewmembers.

MV Caribou's design had been commissioned by CN Marine in the early 1980s and was the culmination of years of research into effective icebreaking ship designs. The resulting hull design which MV Caribou and MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood were built to is called "Gulfspan", named in part after the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The "Gulfspan" hull is unique among Canadian icebreakers in that the ship slices through sea ice, rather than using its weight to ride up onto and crushing the ice underneath. This design permits the sister ships to maintain close to regular operating speed.

At the time that MV Caribou entered service in 1986, CN Marine underwent a restructuring whereby the company was separated from its parent CN Rail and renamed Marine Atlantic. At the same time, CN was beginning the process of abandoning all railway service on the island of Newfoundland, which had been operating as Terra Transport. Several ferry vessels were retired and/or sold at the time that MV Caribou entered service and these corporate restructuring changes were taking place.

MV Caribou regularly makes the Cabot Strait crossing from North Sydney to Channel-Port aux Basques in approximately 5 hours, 30 minutes, however she has been known to break the 5 hour mark in optimum conditions but frequently comes closer to 6 hours as dictated by established schedules.