Final Island Class ferry en route to Victoria

The sixth and final Island Class vessel ordered by B.C. Ferries from the Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania is on its way to Victoria.

The vessel will take about 60 days to make the trip, sailing under its own power about 10,700 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal and up the Pacific Coast.

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The hybrid vessel, which has both fuel and battery powered engines, is expected to make one-third of the trip using just battery power.

One of the selling features of the vessel is its ability to operate as a fully electric ship once B.C. Ferries has installed plug-in recharging capabilities at its terminals.

“It is exciting to reach this milestone in our Island Class project,” said Jamie Marshall, B.C. Ferries’ vice-president of shipbuilding and innovation.

“As these new ferries come into service, we are realizing important environmental and sustainability benefits. Electric propulsion is quieter, smoother and more efficient compared to the traditional diesel propulsion of the vessels the Island Class will be replacing, and these ships will improve customer service by adding more capacity and frequency of service.”

The Island-Class ferries are hybrid diesel-electric vessels designed for full electrical operation. They can carry 47 vehicles and are double-ended for easy loading and unloading. The ferries have wide vehicle lanes, dedicated pedestrian paths and bicycle parking spaces.

Their design reduces underwater radiated noise and lowers emissions.

The first two Island-Class ferries, Island Discovery and Island Aurora, were brought to Victoria via a semi-submersible heavy lift vessel in 2019 and are now in service on the Powell River-Texada Island route and the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island route.

Island Nagalis and Island K’ulut’a are at B.C. Ferries’ fleet maintenance unit in Richmond for final preparations for service next year on the Campbell River-Quadra Island route.

The fifth vessel, temporarily named Island 5, is at Point Hope Shipyard in Victoria. It and Island 6 will operate on the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route, starting next year.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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