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New Hullo foot passenger ferries arrive at Ogden Point

The vessels will undergo about two weeks of tests and trials to earn Transport Canada certification prior to heading to Nanaimo.

The two new Hullo catamaran ferries arrived this weekend at Ogden Point, where they were being unloaded to sail to Point Hope Maritime before heading north to Nanaimo.

The vessels were built by Damen Shipyards Group in Vietnam and carried more than 11,000 kilometres to Victoria.

Walkers on the Ogden Point breakwater Sunday stopped to watch the ships being lifted into the water while tugs were on hand to help with the move. Those with maritime experience shared their thoughts about the vessels with many others watching and taking photographs.

Cargo ship UHL Freedom pulled up to Ogden Point with the green, white and orange vessels.

Once at Point Hope on Victoria’s harbour, they will undergo about two weeks of tests and trials to earn Transport Canada certification prior to heading to Nanaimo.

The ferries are slated to begin running up to seven round-trips daily for foot passengers between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver in early August. Each ferry can carry 354 passengers.

A direct ferry service between Nanaimo and Vancouver has been a regular issue in elections in Nanaimo. The business and tourism community is eager to see the service start as Nanaimo undergoes a growth spurt that has pushed it above 100,000 residents.

Proponents believe the service will allow passengers to commute and to attend late-night events in Vancouver, and attract visitors.

One-way fares range from $39.99 to $59.99 for a 70-minute crossing, depending on the class. An introductory offer will reduce fares by $10 for a first-time booking.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com