Fourth Island class electric-hybrid ferry launched in Romania, sea trials to begin in April

B.C. Ferries’ fourth battery electric-hybrid Island class ship was launched in the waters off Damen Shipyards’ facility in Romania on Thursday.

Expected to arrive in B.C. in the fall of 2021, the ship will be one of two vessels serving the Campbell River-Quadra Island (Quathiaski Cove) route. The new ship is replacing the larger Powell River Queen.

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It will be partnering with a third Romania-built Island class ferry, launched in October, on that route starting in 2022.

Work continues on the latest new vessel, expected to undergo sea trials in April. After that, it will make its way to Point Hope Maritime in Victoria, B.C. ­Ferries said in a statement.

Having the two smaller ships on that route will boost capacity to an average of 94 vehicles per hour from 59 and provide more frequent service, said B.C. Ferries, which anticipates fewer lineups and less congestion on area roads.

A total of six Island Class hybrid ships have been ordered from Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands, a global player in the shipyard industry.

Two Damen-built Island Class vessels went into service this year on the Powell River-Texada Island route and the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Scintilla Island route.

The fifth and sixth new ferries will provide two-ship service on the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route, also starting in 2022, B.C. Ferries said.

The latest agreement with Damen for four ferries was announced late last year. No Canadian shipyard bid on the opportunity.

The project cost for the four newer vessels, including financing and project management, is $200 million.

Point Hope Maritime has inked a long-term agreement with Damen to provide technical and warranty services for the Damen-built ferries.

Island class ferries are not yet fully electric. B.C. Ferries said when charging technology allows electricity to be available in the quantities required, it will operate the new ships as all-electric ferries. Until then, ships will use an on-board, low-sulphur diesel hybrid system.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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