The first steel cut for BC Ferries’ third new intermediate class ferry (ICF) took place in July, representing another significant step in the project to build three ferries capable of running as dual-fuel on either liquefied natural gas (LNG) or ultra-low sulphur diesel.

The three ships are being built at Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. in Gdansk, Poland. Construction of the first two vessels commenced earlier this year, with steady progress being made. The staggered starts mimic the delivery dates, with the first ICF scheduled to arrive in August 2016, the second in October 2016 and the third in February 2017.

“The new ships will replace vessels that are at the end of their life cycle, and will be more fuel-efficient and cleaner burning, reducing our impact on the environment,” said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the new vessels and the construction start of the third ICF is an important milestone in bringing these ships one step closer to sailing in our fleet.”

The use of LNG by BC Ferries will result in the reduction of an estimated 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, the same as taking 1,900 passenger vehicles off the road annually, because natural gas is cleaner burning than traditional marine diesel fuel. The new ships will run on LNG as much as possible, almost completely eliminating SOx (Sulphur Oxides), reducing NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) to a fraction of what we see from diesel fuel and nearly eliminating particulate matter.

The first ICF will replace the 50-year old Queen of Burnaby on the Comox – Powell River route. The second ICF will replace the 51-year old Queen of Nanaimo, sailing on the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route. The third ICF will be used to augment peak and shoulder season service on the Southern Gulf Islands route, and provide refit relief around the fleet.