Three new dual-fuel Salish Class vessels are setting sail this year.

The Salish Orca, the Salish Eagle and the Salish Raven were built as part of BC Ferries’ three-build ship program, one phase out of the fleet renewal program. According to Mark Wilson, vice-president of engineering for BC Ferries, the three ships will be replacing two of its fleets’ oldest ships, the Queen of Burnaby and the Queen of Nanaimo – both of which are more than 50 years old. Typically, BC Ferries keeps a vessel for around 40 to 45 years.

According to Deborah Marshall, executive director of public relations for BC Ferries, the three new Salish vessels are 107 metres each. They are BC Ferries’ first-ever natural gas-fuelled ships, which means they are fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

“Natural gas is also about 40 per cent cheaper, so it’ll help lower operating costs,” Marshall adds.

The first vessel, the Salish Orca, will go into service in April of 2017. It will enter on the Powell River – Comox route. The second ship, the Salish Eagle, has just arrived on B.C. waters. Wilson says that vessel is going through the final stages of acceptance and into operational training. It’ll be set to go into operational service in late June on the Tsawwassen – South Golf Islands route. The third and final vessel, the Salish Raven, is currently in the final stages of acceptance in Poland.

“It is currently out on sea trial on the Baltic Sea, and we’re expecting that vessel will be on its way to Canada in April,” Wilson says. “It’s about a 55-day journey to get over to Canada through the Panama Canal, and the ship does make a few stops just before the Panama Canal.”

All three Salish vessels were built identically. Wilson explains that they are double-ended ferries with three Wartsila 8L20DF series engines on board. The total power output of the system is around 4.5 megawatts. The ships are equipped with focus on a high standard of safety with a water mist fire protection system in engineering and passenger spaces as well as a very modern evacuation system from LSA. Each ship also has a full galley on board for passenger food services and a gift shop for providing high levels of customer service.

“[The ships] have a very modern bridge that has clear lines of sight to either end of the ship for loading and unloading for improved safety,” Wilson says.

Wilson says the Salish vessels are extremely accessible, with two elevators on board and passenger stairwells at each corner of the vessel. There are handicap washrooms as well on all car decks and in passenger accomodations.

For more information, visit bcferries.com.

Salish Orca.

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