By Mark Edward Nero
Salish Orca, the first of three new vessels built for BC Ferries, has arrived in British Columbia. The vessel reached BC waters the morning of Jan. 11 after a 50-day 10,440 nautical-mile journey from Gdansk, Poland.
“This is a very exciting day for all of us at BC Ferries as we proudly welcome this beautiful ship, Salish Orca, home to British Columbia and into our fleet,” Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO, said.
The vessel is expected to be officially handed over to BC Ferries after it clears Canadian Customs and final inspections are complete.
Over the next couple of months, BC Ferries says crews will be trained and familiarized in the operation of the new state-of-the-art ship.
After public open houses in Powell River and Comox, Salish Orca is expected to start service on that route this coming spring.
The Salish Class vessels are BC Ferries’ first natural gas-fueled ferries. Using natural gas as the primary fuel source is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 25 percent, reduce sulphur oxides (SOx) by over 85 percent, reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) by over 50 percent, and nearly eliminate particulate matter, according to the company.
“The Salish Class vessels will provide us cost savings and efficiencies with standardized vessels and greater interoperability as well as enhance safety well into the future. BC Ferries President and CEO Mike Corrigan said. “They are very well built ships, which will serve our customers for many years to come.”
The vessels, which will be able to ferry up to 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew, feature two car decks and have a service speed of 15.5 knots. Each will be powered by three Wartsila 8L20DF engines. Gross tonnage of each ship is 8,728 tons.
Salish Orca’s sister ships, Salish Eagle and Salish Raven, are expected to arrive in British Columbia this spring and start service in the Southern Gulf Islands later this year.