The next slate of BC Ferries’ vessel replacements will be some of the largest ships the ferry corporation has replaced in its fleet.
Proponents are being sought to assist with the upcoming procurement process of selecting the shipyards that will be responsible for five new vessels that will replace all five C-class ferries, which were built between the late-1970s and early-1980s.
This includes the Queen of Alberni, Queen of Coquitlam, Queen of Cowichan, Queen of Oak Bay, and Queen of Surrey, with each sister vessel sharing the same length of 138 metres (457 ft) but offering varying capacities of between 1,200 and 1,494 passengers and crew and about 300 vehicles.
Four of these existing vessels serve the major routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island while the Queen of Surrey operates from Horseshoe Bay to the Sunshine Coast.
The replacement vessels will be the largest ferries built for the ferry fleet since the introduction of the three Coastal-class ferries between 2007 and 2008.
BC Ferries aims to have the first new C-class replacement vessel in service by 2024. The replacements could potentially offer the same size and capacity as the Coastal-class vessels.
This is the ferry corporation’s latest investment on new vessels.
Three Salish-class vessels, each with a length of 107 metres and a capacity for up to 600 passengers and crew and 145 vehicles, were built by a Polish shipyard at a cost of $165 million. They recently went into service, with each vessel distinctly wrapped with unique First Nations art.
The same Polish shipyard is also contracted to retrofit the fleet’s largest vessels – the Spirit of Vancouver Island and Spirit of British Columbia.
Last year, the ferry corporation announced a Romanian shipyard, owned by a Dutch company, will build two new vessels that will hold up to 300 passengers and crew and 44 vehicles each. The combined cost of this order for minor routes is $86.5 million.
And later this month, the Northern Sea Wolf will make its inaugural sailing for the seasonal long-haul route between Port Hardy in northern Vancouver Island and Bella Coola on the mainland’s Central Coast. The vessel was built in 2000, and was acquired second-hand from Greece at a cost of $12.6 million. A further $20 million was spent on the ship’s extensive renovations, which were recently conducted at a shipyard in Greater Victoria.
BC Ferries is spending over $3 billion from now until 2026 to renew its aging vessels and terminal infrastructure, including a complete rebuild of Horseshoe Bay terminal that could cost up to $250 million.