VICTORIA, July 23, 2013 /CNW/ - The BC Ferries Commissioner has approved
BC Ferries' application to construct three new intermediate class
vessels to replace the 48-year old Queen of Burnaby and the 49-year old
Queen of Nanaimo. Both of these vessels are nearing the end of their
service lives and are scheduled for retirement in 2016.
BC Ferries intends to build two vessels capable of carrying 145 vehicles
and up to 600 passengers and crew to replace the Queen of Burnaby,
which sails between Comox and Powell River and to replace the Queen of
Nanaimo, which services the Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands route.
A third vessel capable of carrying 125 vehicles and 600 passengers and
crew will also be built to augment peak and shoulder season service on
the Tsawwassen - Southern Gulf Islands route, plus provide refit relief
for the other two new ships.
"As we begin the next phase of our newbuild program, a key objective is
to achieve capital and operating cost savings and efficiencies through
an overall class and standardization strategy and a series build
program," said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries' President and CEO. "Improved
operational efficiencies are also expected including lower crew
training costs with standardized bridge, engine room and accommodation
layouts, and lower maintenance costs with standardization of parts and
BC Ferries intends to pursue a design-build contract with a shipyard
that will be selected through a formal procurement process. The
Company will be issuing a Request for Pre-Qualification later this
month. Canadian and international shipyards are invited to participate
in this process. BC Ferries expects to award a contract for this
project in January 2014. The two-145 vehicle ferries are expected to
be in service in 2016 and the 125-vehicle ferry is expected to enter
service in 2017.
Among the key design elements yet to be finalized are those respecting
liquefied natural gas (LNG). While BC Ferries intends to acquire
LNG-fuelled vessels, further technical and financial analyses will be
required before a final decision is made. These analyses very much
depend on the responses to the Request for Proposals. While vessels
fuelled with LNG are expected to have a higher initial capital costs
than those fuelled with diesel, they are expected to have lower overall
life cycle costs, which would have a positive impact on fares.
Under Section 55 of the Coastal Ferry Act, BC Ferries must not incur a
major capital expenditure for procuring new vessels without first
obtaining approval for the expenditure from the BC Ferries
In his ruling, the BC Ferries Commissioner states that he finds the
major capital expenditure proposed in the Section 55 application to be
reasonable, prudent, and consistent with the current Coastal Ferry
Services Contract and the long term capital plan established by BC
Ferries. The Order stipulates that, in the interest of ferry users and
taxpayers, the BC Ferries Commissioner expects that BC Ferries will
follow a procurement process that will mitigate the risks involved in
such a large capital project and to ensure competitive pricing from a
pool of high quality proponents. The Order also states that ancillary
food and retail services to be provided on each vessel must not be
subsidized by fare revenues on each route.
In the spring, BC Ferries held nine public information sessions in the
Southern Gulf Islands, Comox, Powell River and Texada Island as well as
in Richmond, to show customers its plans and to solicit feedback.
Feedback from the public was included in BC Ferries' Section 55
application to the BC Ferries Commissioner, which is posted at bcferrycommission.com along with the BC Ferries Commissioner's Order 13-01.
SOURCE: British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
For further information:
BC Ferries, Media Relations
Victoria: (250) 978-1267
Victoria: (250) 386-3431
Toll-free: 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779)