A third electric-hybrid Island class ferry was launched this week in Romania, where it was built, and is set to undergo sea trials in February.
The yet-to-be-named ferry will sail later from Damen Shipyards in Romania to Point Hope Maritime, where it is expected to arrive next summer for final work.
It is scheduled to begin service on B.C. Ferries’ Campbell River-Quadra Island route in 2022.
The ferry will be joined by a fourth new Island class vessel on that run. The two smaller ferries will replace the Powell River Queen.
B.C. Ferries said in a statement Thursday that replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels will result in more frequent service, increased capacity — from 59 to 94 vehicles per hour, on average — reduced vehicle lineups, improved safety and less congestion on roads.
“It also eliminates the need to consume more green space to increase the size of terminal holding compounds by moving more traffic through the same amount of space,” the corporation said.
Damen Shipyards, headquartered in the Netherlands, has already sent two similar vessels, the Island Discovery — in service on the Powell River-Texada Island route — and the Island Aurora, which began serving the Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula route this year.
Island class ferries are quiet, low-carbon and low-emission ferries that run on both low-sulphur diesel fuel and batteries, although the goal is to move to 100 per cent battery power once onshore infrastructure is in place.
When the first two Island class ferries were christened in February, Mark Collins, B.C. Ferries’ president and chief executive, called them the future of the fleet.
B.C. Ferries has ordered more Island class vessels to serve the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route in 2022, bringing the total to six.