January 26, 2005

Another BC Ferries' Queen gets major upgrade

BC Ferries' Queen of Oak Bay, which provides service on the Nanaimo-Horseshoe Bay route, is undergoing an extensive, six-month upgrade at Vancouver Drydock Company in North Vancouver.

The contract with Vancouver Drydock, which is part of the Washington Marine Group, is valued at approximately Canadian $33 million and the total project cost is estimated at Canadian $40 million. This is the first BC Ferries' project to receive support through Industry Canada's Structured Financing Facility (SFF), which was established in 2001, and designed to stimulate activity in the Canadian shipbuilding and industrial marine industry.

A contribution of up to Canadian $4.2 million has been granted by the Federal government under the SFF, which will assist this project to proceed.

"We spend about $100 million each year on refits, upgrades and maintenance," said BC Ferries' EVP Business Development Mike Corrigan."This support will assist us in proceeding with this project, which is part of our overall revitalization strategy."

The 23-year-old vessel will receive a significant overhaul to prepare for another 20 years of service.

The upgrade will include improved and expanded passenger amenities, as well as safety and mechanical improvements.

Specifics of the project include engine propulsion system work, electrical upgrades, and modernization or replacement of important service functions such as elevators, heating and ventilation, and steel replacement.

Customer service improvements include an expanded gift shop, new food service facilities with product and layout changes, and a new interior design for the cafeteria and snack bar. An important element of this upgrade also includes the installation of four RFD Marin-Ark marine evacuation chutes, supplemented by two rescue boats and eight life rafts, which will ensure high quality life protection equipment for our passengers and crew.

The Queen of Oak Bay is the third of five C-class vessels identified for a mid-life upgrade. The first three vessels, which have been contracted to Vancouver Drydock, represent an investment in excess of Canadian $100 million. Vancouver Drydock Company completed the mid-life upgrades to the Queen of Coquitlam in June 2003 and the Queen of Cowichan in June 2004

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