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Four more Island-class ferries to be built in Romania

The ferries, the first in the fleet to rely fully on battery power, are expected to be delivered by 2027
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B.C. Ferries’ sixth Island Class ferry departs Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania, bound for B.C. in 2022. B.C. FERRIES

B.C. Ferries has signed a deal with a Netherlands-based company to supply four new hybrid electric Island-class ferries by 2027.

The ferries, the first in the fleet to rely fully on battery power, will be built in Romania by Damen Shipyards Group, which built the first six Island-class ferries, also at its Romanian yard.

The ferries will be split between the Nanaimo-Gabriola route and the Campbell River-Quadra Island run.

By the time the vessels arrive in B.C., shore-based, rapid-charging infrastructure is expected to be in place at four terminals.

Electrical upgrades will be installed under a separate contract.

B.C. Ferries president Nicolas Jimenez said Tuesday the new hybrid electric vessels will increase capacity and improve the system’s flexibility to move ships across routes.

“Adding more Island-class vessels will also make it easier to deploy crew, create efficiencies in training costs, and promote safe, reliable and environmentally conscious ferry services up and down the coast.”

The total value of the initial Island-class program was $300 million. No value has been released for the latest program.

Several bids were received for the work. No Canadian companies submitted a bid, B.C. Ferries said in a statement.

The agreement with Damen is a design-build, fixed-priced contract that comes with guarantees related to delivery dates, performance criteria, cost certainty and quality construction, the company said.

Leo Postma, Damen’s area director for the Americas, said the company has teamed up with the technical staff of B.C. Ferries for seven years to develop a “very efficient” series of 10 ferries that “meet all of the future requirements of safe, reliable and sustainable waterborne public transport.”

The new ships will carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 390 passengers and crew.

They will include features supporting efficiency and environmental responsibility goals, B.C. Ferries said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com