BC Ferries conducting sea trials for Spirit-class upgrade

The following is the text of a news release from BC Ferries:

(VICTORIA, British Columbia) — BC Ferries’ Spirit of Vancouver Island and the Spirit of British Columbia will be conducting sea trials in the Saanich Inlet from Sept. 21-24 in order to demonstrate the performance of the vessels for the three shipyards bidding on the midlife upgrades, including conversion to dual fuel so the ships can operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Each vessel will undergo two days of sea trials to demonstrate the operational profiles of the ships including vessel maneuverability, acceleration and speed. These trials will provide the shipyards with data on control system parameters as well as peak power loads in variable weather, tide or current conditions experienced when transiting Active Pass.

“This is an important step in the bidding process for the shipyards so they can measure and verify vessel performance to provide the optimal propulsive machinery arrangements they submit as part of their bids,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ vice president of engineering.

The three shipyards bidding on the project are Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards, Remontowa SA of Poland and Fincantieri of Italy. Over the next three months, BC Ferries will continue to negotiate with the three proponents to select the final bidder. BC Ferries expects to award a contract for the Spirit-class midlife upgrades and conversions to the successful bidder in early 2016.

BC Ferries is planning for the Spirit of British Columbia to be the first ship through the MLU and LNG conversion process and commence actual conversion from the fall of 2017 through the spring of 2018, and the Spirit of Vancouver Island’s to follow from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.

In order to accommodate the sea trials, the Coastal Celebration will replace the Spirit of Vancouver Island on Sept. 21 and 22. On Sept. 23 and 24, the Queen of New Westminster will replace the Spirit of British Columbia. During the four days, BC Ferries has added extra sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay to ensure consistent capacity on the route for its customers. Reservations are recommended for those travelers with a specific sailing time in mind. For full schedule details, visit bcferries.com.

By Professional Mariner Staff