British Columbia Ferry Services (BC Ferries) said in mid-January that it has chosen Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group to build four new hybrid electric vessels to add capacity and help improve the travel experience for passengers.
BC Ferries said that it plans to operate the new vessels exclusively in battery-electric mode, using renewable hydroelectricity.
Through a separate contract, BC Ferries is also initiating corresponding electrical upgrades for shore-based rapid charging at the four terminals on these routes in time for ship delivery.
“The new hybrid electric vessels will further standardize our fleet, both increasing capacity and improving our flexibility to move ships across routes so our passengers can have confidence that we’ll get them where they need to go,” BC Ferries’ President and CEO Nicolas Jimenez said.
Adding more vessels, he added, would also make it easier “to deploy crew, create efficiencies in training costs, and promote safe, reliable and environmentally conscious ferry services up and down the coast.”
Damen, the same shipyard that built BC Ferries’ previous six Island Class ferries, said that it plans to build the vessels in Romania. Its bid was selected from among several proposals received from around the world.
No Canadian companies submitted a bid, BC Ferries said.
The agreement with Damen is a design-build, fixed-priced contract that BC Ferries has said provides it with “substantial guarantees” related to delivery dates, performance criteria, cost certainty and quality construction.
“We are super excited and extremely pleased with the award of four more Island Class-type vessels for BC Ferries,” Leo Postma, Damen’s Area Director Americas, said. “We have teamed up with the technical staff of BC Ferries now for seven years and together we developed a very efficient series of 10 ferries in total that meet all of the future requirements of safe, reliable and sustainable waterborne public transport.”
The new ships would be able to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 390 passengers and crew, and would have a number of features that support BC Ferries’ environmental goals, the company said.
The four new vessels are expected to enter service by 2027.