HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia government says the cost of a new hydraulic steering system installed as part of the Bluenose II restoration is now in the range of $700,000.

The new figure released by Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan is double the previous estimate of $350,000.

MacLellan, whose department was put in charge of the refit project two days ago, says he doesn't have a detailed breakdown yet of the new cost estimate but will have one next week.

He will tour the schooner in Lunenburg on Wednesday and meet with its builders and the vessel's historical society to get a better understanding of the project.

Earlier this week, the provincial auditor general released a scathing report.

It said the project, which is nearly four years behind its original schedule, could cost the province three times the original budget because the Heritage Department failed to follow basic management practices.

Michael Pickup said costs so far have hit $20 million, with up to $5 million on top of that in dispute.