BC Ferries has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to five pre-qualified shipyards to build three intermediate class ferries.
The vessels will replace the 48-year-old Queen of Burnaby, the regular vessel on the Powell River - Comox route, and the 49-year-old Queen of Nanaimo, which services Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands.
Nine pre-qualified shipyards responded to a request for pre-qualification. The RFP was issued to the following companies: Fiskerstrand BLRT AS, Norway; Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Germany; Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A., Poland; Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd., Canada; and Sefine Shipyard, Turkey.
Two of the three new vessels will carry 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew. The third vessel, which would carry 125 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew, is being built to augment peak and shoulder season service on the Southern Gulf Islands route, plus provide refit relief around the fleet.
“As we embark on this next phase of our new-build program, these vessels will set a new standard of efficiency for the fleet,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ vice-president of engineering. “Currently we operate 18 classes of vessels in a fleet of 35 ships. This project is the stepping stone to eventually bring the fleet into potentially five classes of vessels.”
Standardization of vessel classes will achieve cost savings by building ships with standardized flexibility across various route options and inter-operability between vessels, Wilson added.
BC Ferries has stipulated that the three new vessels have to be designed to operate on either liquefied natural gas (LNG) or marine diesel oil. BC Ferries is pursuing funding under incentive programs to help offset any incremental capital costs associated with the use of LNG.
Using LNG will reduce fuel costs and help reduce the upward pressure on fares, Wilson said. “In addition, we expect to reduce our environmental footprint with a cleaner fuel source. While other ferry operators have already adopted LNG as a fuel source, these will be the first ships in our fleet to utilize this natural resource which is abundant here in British Columbia.”
The RFP closes at the end of February 2014. BC Ferries expects to award a contract to the successful bidder in the spring of 2014. The two 145-vehicle ferries are expected to enter service in 2016 and the 125-vehicle ferry is expected to be in service in 2017.