CFOA in the News: Questions arise about new ferry design

Intermediate Class Ferries built to weather stormy seas

Powell River Peak - June 3, 2015

Concerns were raised about the design of the new replacement ferries for the Queen of Burnaby and Queen of Nanaimo at the most recent meeting of the Northern Sunshine Coast Ferry Advisory Committee.

Slated for completion in 2016/2017, the Intermediate Class Ferries will have an semi-enclosed twin deck, with separate hatches and built-in roll on/roll off ramps for loading and unloading passenger and commercial vehicles.

Committee chair, Kim Barton-Bridges, and others, asked for details about loading vehicles into the enclosed space, wondering if cars would be above the waterline.

“It’s not like you are going down into a dark hole,” said Captain Al de Koninck, Northern Islands marine superintendent. According to de Koninck, the twin-deck vehicle decks are both above water, and the design calls for portholes.

De Koninck explained that the roll on/roll off design calls for commercial vehicles to be loaded on the top deck, with passenger vehicles below.

The design is being used, said de Koninck, because it allows for increased capacity and flexibility, and protects vehicles from spray.

“These designs are tried and true in the Northern Atlantic and Baltic, and they have weather that is equivalent, if not much heavier than ours,” he said.

A spokesperson from Transport Canada said roll on/roll off ramps are a common design used by ferry operators.

According to statistics provided by the Canadian Ferry Association there are at least 53 roll on/roll off ferries being used across Canada, including 34 by BC Ferries.

Darin Guenette, BC Ferries manager of public affairs, said there will also be a double set of consoles on the bridge, saving time at the terminal so the ferry does not have to turn around to load or off-load vehicles.

Despite faster ship loading and a quicker turnaround time, “there are no plans yet to change the schedule,” said Guenette.

“We’re 98 per cent of the way there,” he said, estimating the design will be finalized by the end of this month.

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