12/12/2013 01:25 EST | Updated 02/11/2014 05:59 EST

Minister calls for review of delayed Bluenose II restoration project

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's heritage minister says he wants a full review of the Bluenose II restoration project, which is now at least two years behind schedule.

Tony Ince made the announcement Thursday after revealing the $16-million project has been hit with another delay.

Ince had said the famed schooner would start sea trials this month, but he now says that won't happen until some time in the new year.

The minister said he doesn't know what is holding up the project, adding that ongoing dockside tests in Lunenburg have been complex.

"We're making sure this vessel is safe for Nova Scotians to travel on," he said outside the legislature. "It has to meet international standards."

Nova Scotia's sailing ambassador was supposed to return to regular sailing in the summer of 2012 after an extensive two-year rebuild, but that deadline has been put off until next summer.

"We are still going through those dock trials," he said. "There are a number of different things that have come up ... that have led me to want to look at the whole process from the very beginning, to do a review."

Ince committed to making the results of the review public.

The restoration project started more than three years ago and is being carried out by the Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance.

A spokesman for the consortium has said most of the delays have been caused by the challenge of meeting stringent safety requirement imposed by the American Bureau of Shipping.

Ince has said the project remains within its budget of about $16 million, but he has hinted there will be additional labour costs when the final numbers come it.

The Bluenose II, launched in 1963, is a replica of the original Bluenose, a Grand Banks fishing schooner that won worldwide acclaim for its graceful lines and speed.