BC Ferries’ newest hybrid-electric vessel has officially launched, entering the water for the first time at a shipyard in Romania last Thursday.
The vessel – which hasn’t yet been named – will become the fifth of six ships in the Island Class series and is currently on track to enter service by 2022.
The hybrid-electric vessel, which was constructed at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania, is slated to be one of two Island Class boats assigned to the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route.
First ferry launch of 2021 🤩 The fifth battery electric-hybrid Island Class vessel has launched from @damen 🙌
Following sea trials, the vessel will enter service in 2022 as one of two Island Class ferries on the @cityofnanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/eAGLmmyMgy
— BC Ferries | Travel safe. Wear a mask. (@BCFerries) February 22, 2021
In a social media post made by the ferry company, the new vessel is shown being released from a dry dock and sliding down runners into the water.
Although it has officially entered the water, work will continue on the new ship until scheduled sea trials, which are planned for June 2021.
If the boat proves successful during the sea trials, it will be transferred to Point Hope Maritime in Victoria by late 2021 – a Transatlantic trek that took approximately 45 days for the previous Island Class ships.
The newly launched ship will be one of two boats that replaces the current single ship, the Quinsam, on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route.
“Replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels on the route will provide customers with increased capacity per hour and more frequent service. Customers will also notice reduced vehicle line-ups and congestion on local roads and improved safety. It also eliminates the need to consume more greenspace to increase the size of terminal holding compounds by moving more traffic through the same amount of space,” says BC Ferries.
According to the BC Ferries, the ships are designed for full future electric operation, however, fitted with hybrid technology to bridge the gap until shore charging infrastructure and funding become available.
The company says that once electric charging technology is installed at terminals, the new ships will be configured to operate as all battery-electric ferries, using clean renewable hydroelectric energy.
The Campbell River – Quadra Island route will be receiving two Island Class vessels as well in 2022, joining the other two in the series that were deployed on the Powell River – Texada Island route and the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island route in mid-2020.
The Island Class ships have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew.
The sixth and final hybrid-electric Island Class vessel is expected to launch in the coming months.