Passengers headed between Gabriola Island and Nanaimo in the upcoming weeks may be in luck of catching an extra sailing as BC Ferries runs crews through training on a new Island Class vessel.
Over the month of March, one of the Island Class vessels — the Island Gwawis — will be utilized along Route 19 (Nanaimo to Gabriola Island) for crews to learn and conduct operational readiness drills.
The Island Gwawis will be sailing opposite to the Quinsam as crews execute drills on the new hybrid-electric ship.
Gwawis means “raven of the sea” and was selected with input and support from the ‘Na̲mg̲is First Nation.
“It celebrates the cultural connection between the original mariners of the coastal waters and the communities the vessel will soon serve,” reads a statement from BC Ferries.
As the Island Gwawis gets deployed for training purposes, there may be times when crews welcome aboard passengers when it makes sense to do so as they navigate to and from Gabriola Island.
The timing of these extra sailings will change from day to day as training unfolds and the Gabriola Ferry Advisory Committee says that no official sailings will be added to the schedule as these will just be considered a bonus for passengers waiting for the Quinsam.
Like the rest of the vessels in its class, this sixth and final Island Class ferry has the capacity to carry 47 vehicles and up to 450 passengers and crew. They are battery-equipped ships designed for future full electric operation. The ships are fitted with hybrid technology that bridges the gap until shore charging infrastructure and funding becomes available in B.C.
From the exterior details to the engines, the design of the new vessels reduces underwater radiated noise, lowers emissions and improves customer service.