BC Ferries is marking Earth Day with the launch of its latest battery electric-hybrid ferry.
The ship, which has yet to be named, entered the water Wednesday morning at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania.
It will travel to Vancouver Island in late 2021 following a series of trial runs.
The new ship will then begin service in 2022. Along with a second, already launched Island Class vessel, the ferry will replace the Quinsam on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route.
“We are excited to reach this milestone in our Island Class project,” said Captain Jamie Marshall, BC Ferries’ Vice President, Shipbuilding and Innovation.
“The launch of the sixth and final vessel in the series propels BC Ferries closer to reaching its goal to be efficient and environmentally responsible throughout the system.”
BC Ferries plans to install charging technology at its terminals, allowing these new ships to operate as all battery-electric vessels.
Each Island Class ferry has a capacity of at least 47 vehicles and up to 400 passengers and crew. BC Ferries says that the replacement of the single, larger Quinsam with two smaller vessels on the route will provide customers with increased capacity per hour and more frequent service.
They also say that the smaller but more frequent service will reduce vehicle line-ups and traffic congestion on local roads.
Of the four other hybrid-electric ferries, two are in service on the Powell River – Texada Island route and the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island route.
The remaining two new ships will provide two-ship service on the Campbell River – Quadra Island route in 2022.