an e-ferry leaving dock

First of two Hybrid/e-ferries for Campbell River run arrives in BC, second on its way

CKTZ News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Two hybrid diesel/electric ferries with increased vehicle capacity will begin providing two-ship service on the Campbell River – Quadra Island route starting in early 2022. 

Top photo credit: Island 4 departing Romania bound for B.C. earlier this year photo courtesy BC Ferries – photo courtesy BC Ferries

After a transatlantic journey of 64 days and 10,700 nautical miles, Island 3 – the newest hybrid addition to the BC Ferries fleet – docked in Victoria at 2:42pm local time on Thursday, July 22. Its sister vessel, Island 4, departed from the same port of origin, Damen Shipyard Galati in Romania, about two weeks later and is scheduled to arrive in the port of Vancouver on August 10. 

These passenger and cargo vessels will be bestowed official names later this year. Their simultaneous deployment on the popular and unreservable Campbell River – Quadra Island route is expected to dramatically improve the speed and volume of service, as well as increase local employment and environmental responsibility. 

Unfortunately, the Quadra Island – Cortes Island route is only distantly scheduled for a similar upgraded ship in the next decade. Last Thursday, a Smelt Bay resident reported leaving her house at 1pm and disembarking at the Campbell River terminal only 7 hours later at 8pm due to the backlog of ferry traffic.

Island Class Snapshot courtesy BC Ferries

Nevertheless, BC Ferries is striving toward progress. According to a press release, the Island Class vessels “use some of the most advanced clean marine technology in the world. Once in service, we believe these ferries will be among the most efficient and quietest ferries world-wide,” it said. The eco-friendly design showcases a reduction in underwater noise which can disturb marine life, as well as decreased emissions as compared to a traditional fuel-operated engine. They also feature wider vehicle lanes, dedicated pedestrian footpaths and parking spaces for bicycles. The  vessels are slated for fully electric operation once the terminals are outfitted with shore charging infrastructure, pending sufficient funding. 

The acquisition and subsequent replacement of older vessels is part of BC Ferries’ plan to standardize its fleet, streamlining operations and training, as well as allowing for easier substitution of vessels across the province in emergency or repair needs. There are currently six hybrid Island Class ferries already running or soon to join the BC Ferries operations.

  • the first two have been servicing the Powell River – Texada Island and the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island routes since the middle of last year
  • the next two will be deployed on the Campbell River – Quadra route in early 2022 
  • two more are scheduled to arrive in the fall, ultimately destined for the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island passage, which will also transition to a two-ship service 

Of the two vessels currently sailing between Campbell River and Quadra Island, Powell River Queen will be retired from service and Quinsam reassigned to the Crofton – Vesuvius passage.

Follow the progress of Island 4 on its transatlantic voyage to Canada on by following this link.

Links of Interest:

Top photo credit: Island 4 departing Romania bound for B.C. earlier this year photo courtesy BC Ferries

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