BC Ferries vessel Kwigwis will enter service next year as part of a two-ship operation on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route.
Kwigwis means “eagle of the sea” and was selected with support from the ‘Na̲mg̲is First Nation, according to a BC Ferries media release. The name celebrates the beauty of the journey and the important connection to coastal communities.
The Dec. 14 ceremony began with a few words from BC Ferries and Damen Shipyards, followed by the unveiling of the ships’ name and the christening of the hull. Kwigwis is the latest Island Class ferry to join the fleet.
Island Class ferries have the capacity to carry up to 47 vehicles and up to 450 passengers and crew. They are battery equipped ships designed for future full electric operation. The ships are fitted with hybrid technology that bridges the gap until shore charging infrastructure and funding becomes available in B.C., according to BC Ferries.
“Island Kwigwis represents a small step on the path to fostering our relationships with First Nations, embracing our environmental responsibilities, while maintaining our commitment to the communities we serve,” said Mark Collins, BC Ferries’ president and CEO. “This ship will connect people and we are grateful for the opportunity to make that happen.”
In keeping with maritime tradition, BC Ferries said it selected sponsors for each of the ships. Each sponsor bestows the ship with good luck and protection for all those who travel on them. Chief Bill Cranmer from ‘Na̲mg̲is First Nation christened Island Kwigwis, along with Linda Provost, planning and business advisor with BC Ferries.