Fifth Island-class ferry arrives in Victoria from Romania

The latest hybrid Island-class ferry arrived in Victoria on Monday after sailing from Galati, Romania, and through the Panama Canal.

The ferry, the fifth Island-class vessel, is expected to serve the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route starting next year.

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At Point Hope Maritime on Harbour Road, final ­inspections will take place and B.C. ­Ferries will take ownership of the ­vessel. It will be followed by the sixth and final Island-class ferry in the series, also expected to serve the Gabriola Island route. The ferries were constructed at Damen Shipyards Group’s ­facility in Romania.

Island-class ferries were built to run on both battery power and diesel fuel. During its 59-day voyage, the newest ferry relied on battery power for about one-third of its trip and the main engines were stopped.

Batteries were charged by a diesel generator.

The goal is to run the ­ferries on batteries alone, but that requires on-shore infrastructure allowing ferries to plug into a power system, and the funding is not yet in place for the ­system.

The new vessels will replace retiring ferries as B.C. Ferries renews its fleet and pares down the number of types of ferries to five from 18.

The six Island-class ferries have cost B.C. Ferries about $300 million.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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