News: Second LNG ferry underway in Poland

Times Colonist - April 14, 2015

Polish shipyard workers have started building the second of three new intermediate-class vessels for B.C. Ferries.

The three ferries will operate on liquefied natural gas, considered a lower-cost and cleaner-burning fuel, but will also have the ability to use low-sulphur diesel fuel. B.C. Ferries’ two Spirit-class vessels, biggest in its fleet, are being converted to LNG.

“Obviously, liquefied natural gas is our game-changer,” said Mike Corrigan, Ferries president and chief executive.

Running the two Spirit class and three intermediate class ferries on LNG is expected to save the corporation millions in fuel costs, Corrigan said. The Spirit ships burn about 20 per cent of the fuel in the entire fleet during a year, he said.

The second intermediate-class ferry’s official steel-cutting event, the traditional start of construction, took place Friday at Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. in Gdansk, Poland.

The ship is expected to be delivered in October 2016, replacing the 51-year-old Queen of Nanaimo, used on the Tsawwassen-Southern Gulf Islands route.

Construction began on the first intermediate-class ferry in January. It is due to arrive in August 2016, when it will take over from the 50-year-old Queen of Burnaby on the Comox-Powell River route.

The third ferry will be started in early July for delivery in February 2017. It will run during busy periods on the Southern Gulf Islands route and used on other routes when vessels go in for refit.

B.C. Ferries has contracted with the Polish shipyard to build, design and deliver the three intermediate-class vessels at a cost of $165 million. Each will be 351 feet long with capacity for 145 vehicles and 600 passengers.

B.C. Ferries expects the vessels will be in service for about 40 years.

“These new ferries will not only reduce our impact on the environment, but will also bring us one step closer to standardizing our fleet for better inter-operability on all our routes,” Corrigan said. “Having these new ferries that are the right size for their routes will create greater efficiencies and save costs.”

B.C. Ferries operates

35 vessels in 17 classes. The new intermediate-class ships “will be the standard going forward for intermediate-sized ferries,” he said.

At the same time, Ferries is adjusting docking designs as it can be difficult to move ferries to different routes because they might not be able to pull into existing docks.

Meanwhile, a new cable ferry for Buckley Bay-Denman Island route is expected to be in service by late summer. The cable ferry is expected to save the corporation $2 million per year.

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