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BC Ferries’ new vessel starts transatlantic voyage

Ferry is the fifth of its class in $286.5 million contract
BC Ferries’ fifth Island Class ferry departs Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania bound for B.C.
BC Ferries’ fifth Island Class vessel, temporarily named Island 5, has departed the Romanian shipyard where it was built, headed for B.C. via the Panama Canal.

The trip for the vessel, the fifth in a series of six Island Class ferries, should take about 60 days depending on the weather.

Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group was awarded the $86.5 million contract to build the first two vessels in June 2017.

In late 2019, the company  won a contract to build four more electric-hybrid ferries at a cost of about $200 million.

The approximately 10,700 nautical mile journey includes two refuelling stops before and after transiting the canal.

The first two Island Class ferries, Island Discovery and Island Aurora, arrived in B.C. via a semi-submersible heavy lift vessel in 2019, entering service on the Powell River-Texada Island route and the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island route in mid-2020.

The new vessel is crossing the Atlantic Ocean under its own power.

The third Island Class ferry began its voyage under its own power on May 19 and arrived in Victoria  July 22, while a fourth vessel departed Damen Shipyards Galati in early June and is currently off the coast of California.

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-fuelled vessels.

The vessels are hybrid diesel-electric with a number of key features that support BC Ferries’ Clean Futures Plan and the company’s goal to be more efficient and environmentally responsible throughout its system, the Crown corporation said.

The ships are designed for future full electric operation but are fitted with hybrid technology that bridges the gap until shore charging infrastructure and funding become available.

The new vessel also marks continuing standardization of boats in the provincial fleet.

Crew training, ship familiarization and dock fits are being completed with Island Class ferries already in service, reducing logistical, operational, training and maintenance costs, making for a more efficient ferry system overall. “Standardization helps us dramatically improve resiliency in our fleet by allowing us to move vessels around to replace each other during refits, repairs and unexpected challenges,” said Captain Jamie Marshall, BC Ferries’ vice-president of shipbuilding and innovation.

The arrival of these new vessels will allow Quadra Island and Gabriola Island to each be serviced by two Island Class vessels.

BC Ferries will take ownership of the vessel upon final inspection at Point Hope Maritime with Island 5 service planned service to start in 2022.

Video of the vessel’s launch and departure and be seen here:


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