BC Ferries vessel out of commission after a ‘hard landing’ in Tsawwassen

BC Ferries vessel out of commission after a 'hard landing' in Tsawwassen

The Spirit of Vancouver Island is now out of service after BC Ferries says it was damaged after a “hard landing” at the terminal in Tsawwassen.

The vessel left Victoria around 3:00 p.m., arriving in Tsawwassen at 4:30, when it hit the berth a little too hard.

“When arriving, there was a docking incident that damaged the vehicle deck and the birth it was arriving in,” said Tessa Humphries, communications manager at BC Ferries.

“We are very thankful no passengers or crew were injured.”

Walk-on passengers were able to immediately disembark the ferry, but vehicle passengers were stuck, as they were not able to drive off.

“The damage to the birth was minor, so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was the care deck,” explained Humphries.

The “hard landing” damaged the car deck to the point where the aprons, the metal flaps that bridge the gap between the vessel and the dock, could not be lowered. Welders were brought in to temporarily fix the damage.

BC Ferries crew walked up and down the deck, informing travelers about the situation, handing out water and juice.

After four hours of waiting, vehicle passengers were finally able to drive off.

“We sincerely apologize to our customers,” said Humphries,  “COVID- 19 significantly reduced amount of traffic on BC Ferries, and we have less crew to help during times like these.”

Since the start of the pandemic, BC Ferries has cancelled and reduce service on multiple routes.

The incident had a domino affect, delaying travelers’ plans throughout the evening.

Aaron Pateman was heading to the island on Saturday night, and waited for hours to board the next boat.

“They then called in the crew for the Spirit of British Columbia to make a extra sailing to get us all back to the island, and then people back from the other side,” said Pateman.

The 5 p.m. sailing from Tsawwassen was cancelled, as was the 7 p.m. sailing from Swartz Bay. BC Ferries added two replacement sailings, employing the Spirit of British Columbia to make an added trip from Tsawwassen at 9 p.m. and another departing from Swartz Bay at 11 p.m..

“It did take well over two and a half hours for the doors to be opened,” said Pateman. “It was chaotic.”

BC Ferries says the reason for the tough landing is unknown at this time but that there is an ongoing investigation, and the Spirit of Vancouver Island has since been removed from service.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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