BC Ferries is on the hunt for five new major vessels, calling on B.C. and Canadian shipyards for expressions of interest to build them.
The new ships, expected to be in service in 2023, will be used between Victoria, Nanaimo and Metro Vancouver.
“These vessels will be quieter and have a lighter ecological footprint than any we have ever built,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ vice president of strategy and community engagement. “We will build ships that work in harmony with our planet and also deliver the speed, capacity and resilience coastal travellers want.”
Four ferries will be replaced — the Queen of Alberni, Queen of New Westminster, Queen of Cowichan, and Queen of Coquitlam — and a new vessel will be added to the Metro Vancouver fleet.
Vehicle and passenger traffic is predicted to continue to surge at BC Ferries. The new ship is to provide more “resiliency in the fleet,” to help deal with vessel repairs, higher traffic and so forth.
“We are building the low carbon coastal ferry system that will serve B.C. for the middle half of this century,” Wilson said. “These vessels will provide additional capacity on our routes while continuing our ambition to be leaders in environmental stewardship.”
The bid process can involve local, national and international shipyards, BC Ferries says, including consortiums.
“BC Ferries encourages local and national companies to bid on these projects,” it said in a news release.
There are a few other hurdles to clear.
The expenditure needs the approval of the BC Ferries Commissioner. The corporation plans to apply to the commissioner next year.
“(A)nd, subject to a favourable decision, award a contract for these ferries by the end of 2019,” BC Ferries said.