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Three new BC Ferries to use LNG by 2016-17

BC Ferries
BC Ferries' fleet has 18 different classes of vessels in a fleet of 35. It wants to reduce that to five classes with standardized replacements.
— image credit: Black Press files

BC Ferries has invited bids from five shipyards to construct its next three replacement vessels, with dual-fuel engines for diesel and liquefied natural gas.

Two of the new mid-sized ferries are to be in service by 2016, replacing the 48-year-old Queen of Burnaby on the Comox-Powell River run and the 49-year-old Queen of Nanaimo that serves the Tsawwassen-Southern Gulf Islands route.

The two replacements will have capacity for 145 vehicles and 600 passengers, including crew. A third ship is to be ready in 2017 to provide peak-season service to the Southern Gulf Islands and relief for ships undergoing refit.

Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards is the only Canadian shipbuilder invited to bid. The others that pre-qualified for the project are from Norway, Germany, Poland and Turkey. The deadline to bid is Feb. 28.

Mark Wilson, BC Ferries' vice president of engineering, said the new ships are to run primarily on LNG, which is currently about half the cost of diesel and produces less carbon dioxide and all but eliminates sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions.

The duel-fuel ships are also a step towards standardizing vessels, a key to increasing efficiency of the fleet with service flexibility and simplified training.

"Currently we operate 18 classes of vessels in a fleet of 35 feet," Wilson said. "This project is the stepping stone to eventually bring the fleet into potentially five classes of vessels."

BC Ferries expects the introduction of the three new ships to cost between $200 and $300 million.

 

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