Fifth Hybrid-electric Vessel Launched for BC Ferries
BC Ferries’ newbuild program continues with the launch of its fifth Island Class hybrid-electric ferries last Thursday at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania. When in operation, the yet-to-be named vessel will be one of two assigned to the Nanaimo Harbor – Gabriola Island route.
Work will continue on the new ferry until scheduled sea trials in June. Following sea trials, the vessel will be delivered to Point Hope Maritime in Victoria in late 2021 for final preparations. Two-ship service is scheduled to begin on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route by early 2022, replacing the Quinsam.
According to BC Ferries, replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels on the route will provide customers with increased capacity per hour and more frequent service. The move will also enable reduced vehicle line-ups and congestion on local roads, and improved safety, the Canadian ferry operator said, adding that it also eliminates the need to consume more greenspace to increase the size of terminal holding compounds by moving more traffic through the same amount of space.
The Island Class is a hybrid diesel-electric ferry with a number of key features that support BC Ferries’ Clean Futures Plan and the company’s goal to be efficient and environmentally responsible throughout its system. Once electric charging technology can be installed at BC Ferries’ terminals, these new ships will be configured to operate as all battery-electric ferries, using clean renewable hydroelectric energy. Island Class ferries have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew, and allow for fleet redeployments and retirements of existing diesel-fueled vessels.
BC Ferries' first two Island Class vessels were deployed on the Powell River – Texada Island route and the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island route in mid-2020. The third and fourth new ships will provide two-ship service on the Campbell River – Quadra Island route in 2022. The sixth Island Class ferry is expected to launch in the spring.