BC Ferries orders four more hybrid ferries from Damen Shipyards

Ferries will be able to sail as electric vessels in future when electric charging technology has matured

BC Ferries orders four more hybrid ferries from Damen Shipyards
Rendering of next four Island Class ferries (Image: BC Ferries)

By Rebecca Gibson |

Canadian operator BC Ferries has ordered four diesel-electric hybrid Island Class ferries from Damen Shipyards Group as part of its Clean Futures Plan.

Damen, which has already built two Island Class ferries that will arrive in Canada by January 2020, will deliver all four additional vessels by 2022. Like the first two Island Class vessels, the four additional ferries will have hybrid power systems that use batteries and low-sulphur diesel fuel to improve operational efficiency and reduce emissions. The ferries will also be equipped with power and propulsion systems to enable them to operate as fully electric vessels in the future when electric charging technology can provide enough power.

Other green technologies will include an exhaust system with selective catalytic reduction to decrease nitrogen oxide emissions, twin propellers to reduce underwater radiated noise, and a system that enables wasted thermal energy to heat the vessels. They will also have low-friction and biofouling-resistant hull coatings to cut fuel consumption and LED lighting.

The ferries will also have comfortable passenger lounges and solariums with panoramic windows. They will be able to accommodate 300-450 passengers and crew members, as well as at least 47 vehicles.

“Our Clean Futures Plan spells out our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing our legacy carbon-intensive, fossil-fuelled vessels with ships using clean energy,” said Jamie Marshall, vice president of business development and innovation at BC Ferries. “These next four Island Class ships are a major step in our plan to progressively lower emissions across the fleet and be a leader in the energy transition to a lower carbon future.”

BC Ferries’ first new Island Class vessels have already successfully completed their sea trials and will start service in 2020, operating on the routes between Powell River and Texada Island, and also between Port McNeill, Alert Bay and Sointula Island. By 2022, the third and fourth vessels will be sailing on the Campbell River – Quadra Island route, while the fifth and sixth ships will be providing crossings between Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island.

By replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels on each of these routes, BC Ferries will be able to increase passenger capacity and provide more frequent crossings, which will reduce vehicle congestion.

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