The second ship of a brand new class of BC Ferries vessels is ready to officially join the fleet and take its maiden voyage on Thursday.
The new hybrid-electric ship, Island Aurora, is scheduled to depart on the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula (Vancouver Island-Cormorant Island-Malcolm Island), starting on June 18.
This marks the second ship to launch in just over a week as Island Aurora’s twin ship, Island Discovery, commenced service last Wednesday on the Texada Island – Powell River run.
According to BC Ferries, Island Aurora is designed for fully electric operations in the future once new shore charging infrastructure becomes available. In the meantime, the vessel is fitted with hybrid technology that will allow it to operate on diesel in order to bridge the gap.
Both Island Aurora and Island Discovery are intended to lower the carbon footprint of BC Ferries’ operations.
The BC Ferries says that onboard the new Island Class hybrid ferries, the “lounge areas are built for comfort with a variety of seating choices and charging stations for electronics.”
In addition, the design of the new vessels is aimed at reducing underwater radiated noise, lowers emissions and improving customer experience.
BC Ferries says that depending on the configuration, the vessels will be able to carry around 47 vehicles and 300 to 450 passengers and crew.
The intention of the travel authority is to have two more of the Island Class Ferries operating by 2022 on the Campbell River to Quadra Island route, along with the Nanaimo Harbour to Gabriola Island route.
Island Aurora will replace the 51-year old Quadra Queen II, which will become a relief vessel in the BC Ferries’ fleet.
One planned element surrounding the launch that the organization isn’t able to go ahead with was a public open house to showcase Island Aurora.
A virtual tour of the new hybrid ship is available as an alternative.