BC Ferries’ newest hybrid diesel-electric vessel is on its way to B.C. after departing Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania over the weekend. The Island Class ferry, temporarily named Island 5, is the fifth in a series of six, which will enter service next year.
BC Ferries said depending on the weather, it will take about 60 days to make the voyage. The approximately 10,700 nautical mile journey includes two stops for refuelling before and after transiting the Panama Canal. The vessel will sail up the west coast of North America and arrive at Point Hope Maritime in Victoria.
The Island Class vessels use some of the most advanced clean marine technology in the world and are designed for future full-electric operation, according to BC Ferries. The vessels are fitted with hybrid technology that bridges the gap until shore charging infrastructure and funding become available.
“The Island Class ferries are another step towards sustainability and standardizing our fleet,” said Captain Jamie Marshall, BC Ferries’ vice-president of shipbuilding and innovation. “Today, we have 35 vessels in 17 different classes across our fleet. We are aiming to create approximately six classes of vessels in the future.”
Crew training, ship familiarization and dock fits are being completed with Island Class ferries already in service to reduce logistical, operational, training and maintenance costs, BC Ferries said.
“Standardization helps us dramatically improve resiliency in our fleet by allowing us to move vessels around to replace each other during refits, repairs and unexpected challenges and it provides a more consistent travel experience for our customers,” said Marshall.
Island Class ferries have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew, and allow for fleet redeployments and the retirement of existing diesel-fuelled vessels.
The first two Island Class ferries, Island Discovery and Island Aurora, arrived in B.C. via a semi-submersible heavy lift vessel in 2019 and entered service on the Powell River – Texada Island route and the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island route last year. The third Island Class arrived in Victoria in July, while the fourth vessel departed from Romania in early June and is currently off the coast of California, according to BC Ferries.
The arrival of the new ferries will allow Quadra Island and Gabriola Island to each be serviced by two Island Class vessels.