The Nova Star ferry, which left its berth at the Ocean Terminal for an anchorage in Portland Harbor on Saturday morning, may depart the harbor for the last time Monday.

The financially embattled vessel is waiting for bad weather to clear along the East Coast before leaving for warmer waters, said Jim Barreiro de Leon, managing director of Ship Supply of Florida Inc.

Ship Supply has been appointed caretaker of the ship, which was seized and placed under arrest by the U.S. Marshals Service on Oct. 30 while claims seeking payments of more than $3 million were sorted out in U.S. District Court in Portland. Ship Supply has been readying the ferry for departure for the past week. The Nova Star was moved from the terminal Saturday to make way for another incoming vessel, Barreiro de Leon said.

He said if the weather clears, the ship could leave for Florida as early as Monday.

The ship, which has plied the Guif of Maine between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for the past two summers, was released from its forced stay in the harbor this past week after the owner, Singapore Technologies Marine, posted a $750,000 bond to cover the remaining claims against the ship. The ship’s operator, Nova Star Cruises, ran up more than $3 million in debts during the two years it ran between Maine and Canada, not including $41 million (Canadian) in subsidies from the Nova Scotia government.

The 528-foot ship was arrested by U.S. marshals on Oct. 30 after creditors began filing claims in U.S. District Court. Those claiming that the operator owed them money included the city of Portland; the Portland Pilots, which provided captains to guide the ship in and out of the harbor; fuel vendors; McAllister Towing; and a dry cleaning company, Pratt Abbott, which supplied linens to the ship

Singapore Technologies Marine stepped in to resolve the debts and has reached agreements with most of the creditors. Under maritime law, even though Nova Star Cruises had leased the ship for the last two years and ran up the bills, the ship was subject to auction to raise the money to cover the debts. The owner would have received whatever was left over from the auction’s sale price after the bills were paid, so it stepped in to settle the bills and reclaim ownership of the ship.

Edward MacColl, the local attorney for Singapore Technologies Marine, said Monday that a prospective operator for the ferry looked over the vessel last week. But MacColl said he didn’t know where the ship would go once it left Portland or if it was being chartered by another operator.

The ferry service was launched with much fanfare in early 2014, and Nova Scotia’s government agreed to underwrite some of the cost because it was an important lifeline to southwestern Nova Scotia’s tourism industry. But the service carried far fewer passengers than had been forecast and in October, the Nova Scotia government severed its relationship with Nova Star Cruises.

The government said the rights to the route for next summer have been awarded to Bay Ferries, a Canadian operator.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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Twitter: QuimbyBeth

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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