Third Island-class ferry on its way to B.C.

B.C. Ferries’ third new Island-class ferry left Romania on Wednesday for a two-month voyage to Point Hope Maritime in Vic West.

Once here, the hybrid diesel-electric ferry will be readied to begin service on the Campbell River-Quadra Island route next year. It will share the route with the still-to-arrive fourth Island-class vessel.

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The ferry was built by Damen Shipyards, which is delivering a total of six Island-class vessels to B.C. Ferries.

The new vessel will travel about 10,700 nautical miles, stopping for fuel in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and in Balboa, Panama, after going through the Panama Canal.

The vessel has not yet been named. B.C. Ferries will take ownership after it arrives at Point Hope.

It is sailing to B.C. under its own power. The two previous Island-class ferries were delivered in 2019 via a large carrier vessel. Those two are now servicing the Powell River-Texada Island and Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula Island routes.

B.C. Ferries said in a statement that allowing the latest vessel to travel under its own power means the ferries will be arriving at different times, making it more manageable for the company.

Charging technology is still needed for B.C. Ferries to fully take advantage of the Island-class vessels’ electric power capability.

“Once electric-charging technology can be installed at B.C. Ferries’ terminals, these new ships will be configured to operate as all battery-electric ferries, using clean renewable hydroelectric energy,” said Capt. Jamie Marshall, B.C. Ferries’ vice-president of shipbuilding and innovation.

Island Class ferries have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew, and allow B.C. Ferries to redeploy and retire existing diesel-fuelled vessels.

The sixth ferry was launched in Romania in April. The fifth and sixth ferries will provide two-ship service on the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route starting next year.

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