05/31/2014 05:53 EDT | Updated 07/31/2014 05:59 EDT

Issues remain after safety check of Bluenose II: Nova Scotia government

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government says some issues remain with the Bluenose II after the American Bureau of Shipping conducted a check on Thursday.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth MacDonald says the bureau was at the site of the Bluenose II in Lunenburg to conduct a safety equipment check and go over Transport Canada requirements.

MacDonald says the project team is working with the bureau to address outstanding issues and expects to receive information next week about what remains to be completed.

MacDonald would not elaborate on the nature of the issues.

A day before the safety check, the province had planned to take the restored Bluenose II for a much-anticipated test, but it was called off because it was missing a certificate from the bureau that would allow the vessel to set sail.

The Bluenose II has been undergoing a multi-year restoration that's been plagued by budget overruns and repeated delays, the latest caused by a problem with the vessel's steering system.

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives issued a statement Saturday accusing the governing Liberals of being incompetent.

"With each passing day, we learn more about how the incompetent Liberals have made a mess of the Bluenose II restoration project," said tourism critic Karla MacFarlane.

"First we thought the Liberals couldn't keep track of paperwork, but now it appears they can't keep track of the facts either."

Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince said last month that the project's cost had ballooned to nearly $18 million.

The iconic schooner was supposed to return to regular sailing in the summer of 2012 after an extensive two-year rebuild at a cost of $15.9 million, with $4.9 million from Ottawa. Since then, Nova Scotians have seen proposed dates for sea trials and official launches come and go.

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.

In January, Premier Stephen McNeil asked the province's auditor general to review the restoration that began under the previous NDP government, calling the project a "boondoggle.''