ferry in dock on a snowy day

Four fully electric BC Ferries vessels scheduled for 2027

BC Ferries (BCF) is expanding its number of Island Class hybrid-electric vessels, with four more contracted to Damen Shipyards Group (Damen) as per their Jan. 16 press release.

While the six Island Class ships currently operating on various routes across the province use both electric and diesel power, the future ships are designed to run solely on battery, with the diesel engine as a fail-safe.

Two routes are slated to receive a pair of the future ships to operate the respective connections in tandem: Nanaimo-Gabriola and Campbell River-Quadra (Quathiaski Cove). Currently older versions of Island Class vessels operate on these routes. In contrast, the newest ships will be built to run powered solely by rapid-charging technology that will be constructed at the terminals to coincide with the 2027 deployment. The Island Class electrification project is estimated to reduce emissions by 10,000 tons of CO2 equivalent.

See also: Changes coming to the local ferries in 2027, and directions for the years beyond

BCF President and CEO, Nicolas Jimenez, explained that careful consideration went into choosing the communities that will be the first to support fully-electric ferries. “The nature of the route, the distance, the type of current, the amount of power needed to run the engines through those currents – all of those factors combined can lead us to a decision to understand what route is best suited to run fully electric.” 

The deployment of the four new ships in 2027 will allow the vessels on those routes to shift elsewhere, in most cases upgrading the capacity of the route. The Cortes-Quadra connection will benefit from one of the four reassigned Island Class ships, increasing the vehicle load from 26 to 47. The other ships will increase service on the Denman-Hornby and Crofton-Vesuvius routes.

The Dutch company Damen was selected from several international proposals, while no domestic bids came. Damen was the builder of the six Island Class ferries already acquired by BCF. “We have teamed up with the technical staff of BC Ferries now for seven years and together we developed a very efficient series of 10 ferries in total that meet all of the future requirements of safe, reliable and sustainable waterborne public transport,” said Leo Postma, Damen’s Area Director for Americas.

Top image credit: Ferry at the Whaletown terminal – Photo by Anastasia Avvakumova

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