BC Ferries says the Netherlands’ Damen Shipyards Group will build four more electric-hybrid Island class vessels. Damen has already built two of them for BC Ferries.

The first two Island class vessels will be deployed on the Powell River – Texada Island route and the Port McNeill – Alert Bay – Sointula Island route by mid-2020.

The third and fourth new vessels will service the Campbell River – Quadra Island route and the fifth and sixth new ships will serve the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route by 2022

The total project budget, which includes financing and project management costs, is approximately $200 million CAD.

The Island Class is a battery-powered ferry. The company says when electric charging technology matures to make electricity available in the quantities required, BC Ferries will operate these new ships as all-electric ferries, using clean energy. In the interim, these ships will use an on board low sulphur diesel hybrid system.

BC Ferries says by replacing one larger ship with two smaller vessels on each of these routes, customers will receive more frequent service, increased passenger capacity per hour, reduced vehicle line-ups, improved safety and reduced congestion on local roads.

It also eliminates the need to consume more greenspace to increase the size of terminal holding compounds by moving more traffic through the same amount of space.

The Island Class vessels will have the capacity to carry at least 47 vehicles and up to 300 – 450 passengers and crew depending on configuration. They will allow for fleet redeployments and retirements of existing diesel-fuelled vessels.