Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards has been awarded a contract to build four, fully electric, passenger/car ferries for BC Ferries.

The new ferries will be used for short-range services in the coastal waters of British Columbia. 

The order will raise the total number of ferries that Damen has supplied to BC Ferries in recent years to 10. As opposed to the previous ferries, these latest additions will be the first to use 100% electrical power. 

The vessels will be based on Damen’s double-ended Island-class RoRo 8117 E3 design. Each will be capable of carrying up to 47 vehicles and 390 passengers. Battery packs with a capacity of 2,000 kilowatts will supply the electricity for the power trains. Rapid recharging using renewable electricity will take place while the ferries disembark and embark their passengers and vehicles at each end. Each vessel will also have auxiliary diesel engines installed for back-up and general redundancy.

The shoreside charging equipment will also be supplied by Damen. This will be the fourth time that Damen has provided this service, the first also being in Canada in 2021, to support two hybrid Damen ferries delivered to the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario. These were followed by projects in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

“The new hybrid electric vessels will further standardize our fleet, both increasing capacity and improving our flexibility to move ships across routes so our passengers can have confidence that we’ll get them where they need to go,” Nicolas Jimenez, BC Ferries’ president and CEO, said in a statement. “Adding more Island-class vessels will also make it easier to deploy crew, create efficiencies in training costs, and promote safe, reliable and environmentally conscious ferry services up and down the coast.” 

“We are very excited and extremely pleased with the award of an order of four more Island Class type vessels for BC Ferries,” Leo Postma, Damen’s area director Americas, said. “We have been working alongside the technical staff at BC Ferries for seven years now and together we have developed a series totaling 10 ferries that are highly efficient, meeting all the future requirements of safe, reliable and sustainable waterborne public transport.”

The four vessels are scheduled to begin operations by 2027 with two vessels each on the routes connecting Nanaimo Harbour and Gabriola Island, and Campbell River and Quadra Island.

No additional specifications were provided.