3GA Marine Ltd.

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3GA Marine, is a company of naval architects and marine engineers.  This innovative young company has offices in Vancouver and Victoria BC as well as bases across the country.  3GA has successfully served the conventional, cable, and hybrid propulsion ferries market, and are now at the head of the electrification initiative.  They also conduct planning, refits, and production engineering as well as provide a support to shipyards.  3GA’s capabilities lie in design, operations, and naval and structural analysis, and now have a renewed focus on a healthier environment.  This is evidenced through the many electrification projects they are involved in as well as new partnerships with organizations like BC Hydro whose foci lie in a greener planet through cleaner engineering.

3GA Marine, in partnership with BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, are planning the full electrification of BC’s inland ferry fleet by the year 2040.  The recent launch of the Arrow Park III ferry is one of the first steps in making this idea a reality.  The AP III is the first fully electrified ferry in BC, and the first electric passenger cable ferry in Canada. 

David Mietla, company president and project manager on the endeavour says: “We at 3GA Marine are very proud to be a part of this exciting project. We truly believe that the future of ferries is electric. This pilot project proves the feasibility of this technology and opens the door to implementation of it within the Ministry’s and other fleets of similar vessels.”

The AP III now operates on full battery power and recharges from clean hydroelectric power at the shore.  3GA Marine designed, fabricated, installed and commissioned the electric propulsion system for BC MOTI, subsequent to the vessels initial entry into service on conventional diesel power.

Arrow Park III-System Details

The upgraded propulsion system features 104kWh of batteries driving a 75kW motor, which in turn powers the hydraulic propulsion system.

Electric power is delivered via a new high voltage DC switchboard, which connects the shore charger, batteries, vessel systems, and propulsion motor. The power management system is integral to the switchboard. The battery system is liquid cooled.

A new custom designed shore charging system was developed to overcome the 20+m annual water level fluctuation. This system utilizes a charging house on a 200m long rail system and features a 950V DC pantograph charger to provide power to the ship. A radar guidance system is utilized to properly align the vessel with the charging mechanism.

Electrification has provided a 50+% savings in energy costs and near zero greenhouse gas emissions.  The reduced vessel noise that this results in provides yet another boon to the environment, ensuring that the sea creatures in the area of operation continue to enjoy nature in the way that they have become accustomed.

The new 600V, 3-phase, 400A BC Hydro service on shore is used to charge onboard batteries that propel the vessel across the water. This is done using a 200m retractable power cable on a moving charger mechanism that will adjust to water levels at the site.

The vessel’s journey lasts five minutes across the upper Arrow Lake.  The ferry is charged on one side of the crossing in about three minutes with a push of a button in the wheelhouse. It uses approximately 10% of its stored energy per return crossing. This can allow for up to five round trips without recharging, however, it typically recharges after each trip. The liquid cooled batteries are by the local BC manufacturer Shift Clean Energy Solutions. 

David adds that “Utilizing the electrical energy generated by the same body of water the vessel operates on makes it feel that much more environmentally friendly. The electric conversion of the vessel results in an annual green house gas reduction of approximately 115 tons “.  The ferry once consumed 43000L of diesel a year. Now, it will only have trace amounts of GHG emissions as it will maintain its existing diesel engines in case of local power outages.

This project with BC Moti to electrify the BC Ferries inland fleet will keep 3GA Marine busy for years to come.  Despite this  there is still sufficient time for more work for other clients.  3GA is working for/has completed projects for clients such as the Canadian Coast Guard, RCMP, coastal shipyards, Transport Canada, Provincial government agencies across the country, Syncrude, Temec Group, CN Rail,to name only a few of their more well known clientele.

3GA relies on a solid philosophy to govern their approach to any project: the concept of the triangle.  This concept is reflected in the very name of the company.  The triangle is the primary feature of monumental structures and other great engineering projects.  As project managers, 3GA looks to three attributes to describe the form of any project: scope, schedule, and budget… product, price and process.  They/3GA provide services that are reliable, affordable, and responsive.  “Omne trium perfectum”-threes are perfect.  Thus, “3 Great Attributes”.

 Pythagoras said, “number is the within of all things.”  Plato said, “Geometry is knowledge of the eternally existent.” The Greeks believed that three is the firstborn of the parent numbers, those being one and two.  They believed that the triangle supersedes the qualities of the circle that has no end or beginning, the triangle has direction and stability.  Da Vinci said, “an arch is two weaknesses which together make a strength”.

In the year before launching the Arrow Park III, 3GA Marine were honored with the distinctive Award of Excellence by BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.  This undoubtedly contributes to the continued trust and reliance given to 3GA Marine by the Provincial Government.