Following a bidding process, British Columbia-based BC Ferries has awarded Remontowa Ship Repair Yard of Gdansk, Poland a $140 million contract to conduct the midlife upgrades of two vessels, including the conversion of both to dual fuel so they can operate on LNG.
The upgrades are scheduled to begin in 2017 and be complete in 2019.
BC Ferries is planning for 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 Spirit of Vancouver Island to follow the following year from the fall of 2018 through the spring of 2019.
The schedule is expected to allow the two vessels, the largest BC Ferries’ fleet, to be in operation during the summer months when traffic is at its peak.
Spirit of British Columbia was built in 1993 and Spirit of Vancouver Island in 1994. BC Ferries said it plans to operate the two vessels for another 25 years.
Remontowa Ship Repair Yard is the largest ship repair yard in Poland and ranks among the largest in Europe. About 200 ship projects are conducted there annually, and the yard is well experienced and proven with LNG-fueled ships.
These elements, BC Ferries said, factored “heavily” into the decision of contract award.
“Last fiscal year, we spent approximately $118 million on diesel fuel of which the two Spirit-class vessels consumed approximately 16 percent,” BC Ferries’ vice president of engineering, Mark Wilson, said. “The conversion of the two largest ships in the fleet along with the three new dual-fuel Salish-class vessels currently under construction will go a long way to help with fare affordability for our customers as LNG costs significantly less than marine diesel.”
By utilizing LNG to fuel the vessels, the company said it expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 12,000 tons annually, the equivalent of taking about 2,500 vehicles off the road per year.
In addition to the LNG conversion, safety systems will be renewed or upgraded including the marine evacuation systems, rescue boats, fire detection system, public address system and installation of a local water mist fire protection system.
Planned renewal of navigation equipment, propulsion equipment components including rudders, steering system, bow thrusters and propeller blades will also occur during the upgrades.