BC Ferries is looking for shipyards to build up to four island-class ferries

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dated: 2022-11-25 07:29:23 .

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VICTORIA – BC Ferries is preparing to order up to four new island-class ferries to ease pressure on busy inter-island routes.

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On Wednesday, the company submitted a pre-qualification application to allow BC Ferries to enter the shortlist of shipyards. Shipyards have until December 22 to respond.

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Shipyards around the world, including in BC, are eligible to apply, said BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall.

The capital plan calls for the new ferries to enter service between 2024 and 2028, she said.

This call to shipyards comes at a time when Gulf Island communities are looking for more capacity on ferries.

Local residents and businesses complain about wait times on multiple trips as the existing small ferries and their crews try to meet rising demand, fueled by the islands’ population growth and construction boom.

Heavy duty trucks loaded with construction materials such as aggregate consume significant amounts of permitted weight over many trips.

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The four new Island-class ferries will join the six ships already delivered, bringing the total to 10. Each 265-foot ferry can carry 47 vehicles and up to 300 passengers and crew.

All six Island-class ferries were built by the Dutch shipyard Damen in Romania.

In mid-January, the two-ship service will begin operating on the Campbell River-Quadra Island route once BC Ferries secures sufficient crew, Marshall said.

“These ships will replace the Powell River Queen and provide our customers with more capacity and more frequent service, like the service we introduced on the Gabriola route in spring 2022.”

The first two island-class ferries, Island Discovery and Island Aurora, were brought to Victoria in 2019 by semi-submersible heavy-lift vessel and entered service on the Powell River-Texada Island and Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island routes. Other Island class ferries went to Victoria.

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Mark Collins, then president of BC Ferries, said in the summer of 2021 that the six Island-class ferries spent a total of $300 million. He said an additional six to eight Island-class ferries would be needed by 2032.

Also, an estimated $150 million has been spent in 2021 to install charging infrastructure at nine terminals so ferries can run on electricity, he said. This project still needs funding.

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BC Ferries is looking for shipyards to build up to four island-class ferries

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