Monday, September 21, 2015

BC Ferries Sea Trials

By Mark Edward Nero

BC Ferries, which provides ferry service along coastal British Columbia, has two of its vessels conducting sea trials in the Saanich Inlet from Sept. 21 to 24 in order to demonstrate the vessels’ performance for three shipyards bidding on the mid-life upgrades.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island and Spirit of British Columbia are scheduled to undergo upgrades that include conversion to dual-fuel so the ferries can operate on liquefied natural gas.

Both vessels are undergoing two days of sea trials to demonstrate the operational profiles of the ships including vessel maneuverability, acceleration and speed. The trials are to provide the shipyards with data on control system parameters as well as peak power loads in variable weather, tide or current conditions.

“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,” Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ Vice President of Engineering, explained.

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 says, it will negotiate with the three proponents to select the final bidder and award a contract for the Spirit Class mid- life upgrades and conversions in early 2016.

BC Ferries plans 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 to follow the next year, from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.

In order to accommodate the sea trials, the Coastal Celebration is replacing the Spirit of Vancouver Island on September 21 and 22. On September 23 and 24, the Queen of New Westminster fills in for the Spirit of British Columbia.