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BC Ferries warns of crewing challenges into summer season

Crewing shortages expected to affect sailing times and plans to provide additional service on some routes
Queen of Surrey and Coquitlam
The Queen of Coquitlam and Queen of Surrey at the Langdale ferry terminal on June 26, the day after BC Ferries added a second vessel to Route 3 for the summer season 2021.

BC Ferries is warning of the crewing challenges that have affected its service in recent months continuing through to spring and summer.

Why? More retirements than expected in key shipboard positions, the effects of vaccination mandates, difficulties recruiting internationally during the pandemic, and a global shortage of professional mariners are expected to “pose ongoing challenges” in hiring enough staff for a busy summer season, said the company’s news release.

The crewing shortages are expected to affect sailing times and plans to provide additional service on some routes.

Changing travel patterns coming out of the pandemic are adding to challenges, said the release. “The spring and fall have become busier as people seek to travel following two years of restrictions while avoiding the traditional peak summer season.”

While it has initiatives underway to address challenges, the company says “isolated sailing cancellations may be experienced due to factors like crew illness.”

The press release says that similar recruiting challenges are being felt in Washington, Alaska, New Zealand, and in the B.C. Interior. 

The Sunshine Coast has felt the effects of crewing challenges with its still-suspended evening commuter “L-run” not returning until at least June 22 and a continued schedule change in Earls Cove-Saltery Bay.