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Second major B.C. Ferries vessel may need repairs

Ferry workers say the Spirit of Vancouver Island has problems with its hull; news conference set for Thursday
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The Spirit of Vancouver Island. CP FILE

With the Thanksgiving long weekend looming, B.C. Ferries could be facing two major vessels out of service for repairs.

The company is set to hold a news conference today to discuss Coastal Renaissance, which is facing a major repair, and Spirit of Vancouver Island — which the ferry workers union says is facing issues with its hull.

B.C. Ferries said it plans to ­discuss preparations for the Thanksgiving weekend.

On Wednesday, the company declined to answer questions about Spirit of Vancouver Island’s condition, saying the topic would be dealt with today.

But ferry workers have said the vessel is expected to be out of service in early to mid-October for repairs to its hull, said Eric McNeely, president of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers Union.

Spirit of Vancouver Island carries traffic between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. Built in 1994, the 548-foot vessel can carry up to 2,100 passengers and crew and 358 cars. It was converted in 2018 to run on liquefied natural gas in order to reduce emissions.

The 2007-built Coastal Renaissance, which normally runs between Duke Point and Tsawwassen, was towed to Nanaimo in mid-August and has been out of service since. It experienced a failure of a drive motor.

B.C. Ferries staff had to contact thousands of passengers who had bookings when Coastal Renaissance was sidelined. It was the second time over the summer that a Coastal vessel was pulled from its route.

The Coastal Inspiration was discovered to be leaking oil in July and had to go to drydock for repair.

That incident also saw thousands of bookings cancelled in the height of the summer.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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