In September 2004, BC Ferries awarded a fixed-price contract worth $325 million ($267 million U.S.) to Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft in Germany for three 22,100-gt vessels. Construction is due to begin in the fall of 2006.
That decision has been controversial in British Columbia. Canadian shipbuilders and unions believe the vessels should be built in Canada. Critics of the contract with the German yard contend that the total cost will be closer to $542 million when other cost factors, notably the 25 percent import duty on foreign-built ships, are included.
In defending the decision, David Hahn, BC Ferries’ president, has said that even if the import duty must be paid, building the ferries in Germany will save almost $80 million and could lead to lower fares.
The three Super C-class double-ended ferries, with a capacity of 1,650 passengers and 370 cars, are now in the final stages of design. The vessels will give BC Ferries the capacity needed to carry the growing traffic between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland. The ferries will operate on the Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay and Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay routes.
This three ferries represent the first phase of a modernization program that calls for 22 new vessels over the next 15 years. The average age of vessels in the current fleet is 32 years. When the three Super C-class ferries enter service in 2008 after sea trials and crew training, they will replace three smaller ferries built in 1962 and 1963.
The new ferries will be 525 feet long with a beam of 92.5 feet and a draft of 18.7 feet. The vehicle storage lanes totaling 6,628 feet will have several different widths to accommodate a variety of vehicles from automobiles to large trucks.
The propulsion system has been designed to achieve a normal service speed of 21 knots using four 3,840-kw MaK diesel generator sets to power the two 11,650-kw electric motors, each driving a single controlled-pitch propeller at each end.
The specifications require the vessels to be able to maintain 18 knots with only two of the four diesel generators operating. The generators will also supply hotel and other vessel electrical power requirements.
In December 2004, SAM Electronics GmbH in Hamburg, Germany, announced it would provide the complete electrical installation, including generators, 6.6-kV main switchboards and other power management and safety systems.