$200-million deal for four more electric-hybrid ferries

More hybrid ferries for BC

Damen Shipyards Group of the Netherlands has won a contract to build four more electric-hybrid ferries for BC Ferries that will be identical to two vessels it just completed for the ferry corporation.

Project cost for the four latest Island-class vessels is about $200 million, including financing and project-management.

No Canadian shipyards bid on the contract, BC Ferries said. However, Point Hope Maritime in Victoria will deliver technical and warranty support under a long-term service contract.

Sea trials have been completed for the first two vessels and BC Ferries has accepted provisional delivery, said Capt. Jamie Marshall, BC Ferries vice-president of business development and innovation.

Next week, they are expected to be loaded into another vessel for the 40- to 45-day voyage to Canada.

“We anticipate getting them in time for Christmas or shortly thereafter,” Marshall said.

The first Island-class vessels are scheduled to come into service mid-2020 on the Powell River-Texada Island route and the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island route. A naming ceremony will be held early in 2020.

The other four vessels are to be delivered in 2022. They will serve the Campbell River-Quadra Island route and the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route.

For the two latter routes, one older ferry is being replaced by two smaller ones. BC Ferries said the result will be more frequent service, more passenger capacity per hour and reduced lineups for vehicles.

Each ferry will be able to carry at least 47 vehicles and between 300 and 450 passengers and crew, depending on the crew numbers and amount of life-saving equipment stipulated by Transport Canada.

BC Ferries’ 12-year plan calls for up to a dozen 265-foot-long Island-class vessels, Marshall said. No dates have been set to order more Island-class ships.

BC Ferries is in discussions with BC Hydro about what is needed for on-shore electric charging technology and shared costs, Marshall said. Once that is in place, the ships will operate on an all-electric system with batteries. Meanwhile, Island-class ferries will use an on-board, low-sulphur diesel hybrid system.

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