BC Ferries has awarded Damen Shipyards Group a repeat order of four additional Damen Road Ferries 8117 E3, also known as the Island-class vessels. The diesel-electric hybrid ferries follow two vessels that BC Ferries ordered from Damen back in 2017. The four new vessels will provide inter-island ferry services between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

The Damen Road Ferry 8117 E3 is 81 meters in length (266') with the capacity to carry 300 passengers and crew as well as a minimum of 47 cars. The vessels’ hybrid fuel arrangement assists BC Ferries in its goal of improving environmental performance and, with the plan of evolving to full electric in the future, reduced operations costs.

Damen was awarded the contract following a competitive tender process that began about a year ago. “The fact that Damen had designed the original two island class ferries for BC Ferries, positioned us well to start building very quickly," Damen sales manager Leo Postma said in a statement announcing the new order. "Also, having very nearly completed the construction of the first order at the time of the award of contract, we had personnel ready and experienced in the building of this type of ferry.”

Added to this, BC Ferries is standardizing its fleet, with a strong focus on interoperability and commonality of equipment and was keen to ensure commonality with the initial two vessels (the first of series of the Island Class). Damen specializes in the standardization of ships. It is via this practice of shipbuilding, known as the Damen Standard, that the shipyards group is able to guarantee fast delivery of proven technology, shipyard officials said..

Standardization across the fleet will offer BC Ferries the versatility to place the vessels on alternative routes should the need arise and will ensure rapid crew familiarization with all vessels.The first two vessels are being transported aboard a semi-submersible heavy-lift vessel from Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania and are due to arrive in Canada at the end of  December.

Leo continued: “We were very pleased to receive this order. We see it as an indication that we have met BC Ferries’ requirements with the first Damen Road Ferries 8117 E3 and we are proud of the confidence they have placed in us.”