A car ferry that carried travelers between Portland and Nova Scotia for 12 summers is heading to the Gulf Coast to help provide shelter for residents forced from their homes by Hurricane Katrina.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's hired the 485-foot Scotia Prince for six months for the special duty. The ferry's preparing to leave Charleston, South Carolina, where it had been in dry dock.
Federal officials have not said where the Scotia Prince will be berthed or when it's expected to arrive on the Gulf Coast.
FEMA also has contracted with three larger cruise ships owned by Carnival Cruise Lines to provide housing in the gulf region.
Meanwhile, Maine Maritime Academy's training vessel, the State of Maine, has received emergency activation orders from the U.S. Maritime Administration to provide emergency housing for crews repairing an oil refinery near New Orleans.
The ship is expected to set sail Thursday and be deployed for about 60 days.