BC Ferries has awarded Damen Shipyards Group the contract to build four new hybrid electric Island Class vessels to add capacity across the system and help improve passenger travel experience.
The new ships will carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 390 passengers and crew, according to the ferry company.
It says they’ll have a number of features that support BC Ferries’ Clean Futures Plan goals of being efficient and environmentally responsible throughout its fleet and operations.
The company plans to operate these new vessels exclusively in battery-electric mode, using renewable BC Hydro electricity.
“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,” said Nicolas Jimenez, BC Ferries’ president and CEO.
“Adding more Island Class vessels will 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, is based in the Netherlands and will build the vessels in Romania.
Its bid was selected from among several proposals received from around the world, says BC Ferries. No Canadian companies submitted a bid.
This agreement with Damen is a design-build, fixed-priced contract that provides BC Ferries with substantial guarantees related to delivery dates, performance criteria, cost certainty and quality construction.
Damen said it is pleased to be awarded the contract and to work with the ferry company again.
“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,” said Leo Postma, Damen’s area director Americas.
The four new vessels will enter service by 2027, with two on the Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island route and the other two connecting Campbell River and Quadra Island.
BC Ferries will also initiate corresponding electrical upgrades for shore-based rapid charging at the four terminals on these routes in time for ship delivery through a separate contract.