BC Ferries to convert Spirit class duo to LNG

JULY 17, 2014 — BC Ferries two newbuilds at Poland's Remontowa Shipbuilding will not be the only LNG fueled vessels in its fleet.

BC Ferries is to conduct mid-life upgrade modifications on its two Spirit-Class passenger ferries (built in 1993 and 1994) in 2016 and 2017.

"A key initiative in this project is to minimize the vessels’ fuel costs and environmental footprint," it says. "As such, BCF intends to replace the current propulsion systems with a dual fuel (DF) diesel – natural gas fueled propulsion system; and seeks expressions of interest from leading suppliers capable of delivering integrated turn-key packages."

After losing out on the newbuild project to Poland, local shipbuilders are hopeful of landing the mid life upgrades. Local media quote George MacPherson, president of the B.C. Shipyard General Workers Federation as saying that several shipyards on the coast are interested in the work, which he says could reach $50 million to $60 million for each vessel.

Both 2,100 passenger, 470 vehicle RO/RO ferries were built in in B.C. The Spirit of British Columbia was delivered in 1993. The Spirit of Vancouver Island followed a year later.

According to the ABS Record they were built by Integrated Ferry Constructors Ltd. Several shipyards were involved. The 200 ft bow sections were built at Allied Shipbuilders in North Vancouver and the 340 ft stern sections at Yarrows Ltd. in Victoria. The pieces were joined in the Esquimalt graving dock before being towed to Fraser Surrey Docks, where they were joined with the superstructure, which had been constructed in three pieces at locations along the Fraser River. The ships were then returned to Esquimalt for completion.

Presumably, fewer players will be involved in the mid-life upgrades.