BC Ferries issued Requests for Expressions of Interest (RFEOI) on Thursday for the procurement of five new vessels to replace some of the fleet’s older assets.
Two RFEOIs were issued: the first for construction of four 81-metre Island Class ferries; and the second for the construction of one 107-metre Salish Class vessel.
The competitive bidding process is open to local, national, and international shipyards.
The first two Island Class ferries are expected to be delivered in 2020, with the following two delivered in 2021. The Salish Class vessel is expected to be delivered in 2021.
Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ vice president of strategy and community engagement, said the new vessels will help the company lower its carbon emissions and improve environmental performance and resiliency.
“The Island Class ships will be electric hybrid propulsion, including batteries, and the Salish Class will be fuelled with natural gas,” said Wilson. “These new clean-tech vessels will reduce our carbon emissions, helping the province achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets, and have the added benefit of reducing the amount of underwater radiated noise we produce.”
The procurement of the new vessels is part of BC Ferries’ ongoing process to modernize its fleet; according to a CBC News report, roughly half the major vessels used on its main routes are between 37 and 42 years old.
BC Ferries said the five new ships will replace the Bowen Queen, Mayne Queen and Powell River Queen. One older vessel will be replaced with two new smaller vessels on the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route and the Campbell River-Quadra Island route, which will increase passenger carrying capacity on those runs from 400 to 900 passengers per hour, and vehicle capacity from approximately 60 to 94 vehicles per hour.
Two Island Class vessels are currently under construction, and three Salish Class ships joined the fleet last year.