New ferries reach Panama Canal

B.C. Ferries’ first hybrid-electric vessels have reached the Panama Canal on their way to Victoria.

The two Island Class ships, which left Constanta, Romania, on Nov. 20 aboard a semi-submersible vessel, will take several days to clear the canal due to traffic and other factors.

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B.C. Ferries expects the ships to reach Vancouver Island early in the new year. The company will take ownership following a final inspection at Point Hope Maritime in Victoria.

The battery-powered ferries are designed to be fully electric once there is sufficient charging capability to supply the vessels with enough power.

In the meantime, they are equipped with an electric-hybrid system that uses low-sulphur diesel fuel.

The first two ferries will be used on the Powell River-to-Texada route and the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula route by mid-2020.

B.C. Ferries announced in November that Damen Shipyards Group of the Netherlands will build four more Island Class vessels. The additional battery-powered ships will be deployed on the Campbell River-Quadra Island route and the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route by 2022.

Island Class vessels can carry 47 vehicles and up to 450 passengers and crew, depending on the configuration. They are “double-ended” to allow for easy loading and unloading, B.C. Ferries says.

Ferry fans can visit to track the voyage of the first two ferries to B.C. aboard the delivery ship Sun Rise, owned by Pan Ocean.

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