British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., Victoria, Canada, continues to roll out its Clean Futures Plan with the launch of its third battery electric-hybrid Island Class vessel. The vessel entered the water early Wednesday morning at Damen Shipyard in Romania. The Damen Group is a Dutch defence, shipbuilding, and engineering conglomerate company based in Gorinchem, South Holland, the Netherlands.
Work will continue on the new ship until scheduled sea trials in February. Following successful sea trials, the vessel will make its way to Point Hope Maritime in Victoria in summer 2021 for final preparations. The yet-to-be named ship will begin service on the Campbell River – Quadra Island (Quathiaski Cove) route in 2022. A fourth Island Class ferry is scheduled to be added to the route in 2022, replacing the existing Powell River Queen with a two-ship operation.
By replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels on this route, customers will receive more frequent service, increased capacity per hour (from 59 to 94 vehicles per hour, on average), reduced vehicle line-ups, improved safety and reduced congestion on local roads. 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 battery-powered ferry with a number of key features that support BC Ferries’ goal to be efficient and environmentally responsible throughout its system. When electric charging technology matures to make electricity available in the quantities required, BC Ferries will operate these new ships as all-electric ferries, using clean energy. In the interim, these ships will use an on board low sulphur diesel hybrid system. The Island Class ferries have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew depending on configuration, and allow for fleet redeployments and retirements of existing diesel fuelled vessels.
The 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 fifth and sixth new ships will provide two-ship service on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route in 2022.