A rendering of the four hybrid-electric Island Class vessels that will join the BC Ferries fleet in 2022. (Courtesy of BC Ferries)

BC Ferries budgets $200M to add four more hybrid-electric vessels to fleet

Vessels expected to arrive in 2022

BC Ferries has plans to add four more hybrid-electric ships to its fleet.

A contract has been awarded to Netherlands based Damen Shipyards Group to build four more battery hybrid-electric Island Class vessels scheduled to go into service in 2022. In the spring of 2017, BC Ferries gave the same company contracts to build two of the hybrid-electric vessels which have successfully completed sea trials and are expected to arrive in Victoria by January 2020.

Damen Shipyards Group will also extend its agreement with Point Hope Shipyards in Victoria to provide technical and warranty support for the new vessels with their local staff.

“Our Clean Futures Plan spells out our strategy to reduce GHG emissions by replacing our legacy carbon intensive fossil fuelled vessels with ships using clean energy,” said Captain Jamie Marshall, vice president of business development and innovation with BC Ferries, in a statement. “These next four Island Class ships are a major step in our plan to progressively lower emissions across the fleet and be a leader in the energy transition to a lower carbon future.”

READ ALSO: BC Ferries invites Greta Thunberg to tour new ‘clean’ ferries

The Island Class vessel is a battery-powered ferry and when electric charging technology becomes advanced enough to make electricity available in the quantities needed, BC Ferries said it will operate the new ships as completely electric ferries using clean energy. In the meantime, the ships will use an on-board, low sulphur, diesel hybrid system.

BC Ferries said the agreement with Damen Shipyards Group is a design-build, fixed-price contract giving BC Ferries guarantees when it comes to delivery dates, performance criteria, cost certainty and quality of construction. According to BC Ferries, the total budget for the project is about $200 million.

The first two Island Class ships will be seen on the Powell River-Texada Island route and the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island route by mid-2020.

The third and fourth vessels will service the Campbell River-Quadra Island route and the last two will serve the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route by 2022.

READ ALSO: Hybrid vessels part of B.C. Ferries’ plans to reduce emissions

BC Ferries said replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels will give customers more frequent service, increased passenger capacity per hour, reduced vehicle line-ups, improved safety and reduced congestion on local roads. The vessels will have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 300 to 450 passengers and crew depending on configuration.

Some highlights of the vessels besides the electric power and battery-hybrid power are that the exhaust system reduces Nitrogen oxide emissions, twin propellers on the ships are designed to reduce underwater radiated noise, they’re designed to be fully accessible without elevators to reduce energy consumption, they are completely outfitted with LED lights, the heat recovery system uses waste thermal energy to heat the vessel and they offer comfortable passenger lounges and solariums.

In 2018, BC Ferries issued a request for expressions of interest to construct the four latest vessels. Eighteen responses were received from international shipyards which were short-listed to 9. No Canadian companies submitted a bid.

Damen Shipyards Group operates 36 shipbuilding and repair yards around with world with 12,000 employees. The company delivers about 175 vessels annually worldwide.

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