Island Discovery, the first of BC Ferries’ new hybrid-electric vessels, completed its maiden voyage on June 10th on the route between Texada Island in the Strait of Georgia and Powell River on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast. The ship is one of six new Island Class ferries designed to be powered entirely by electricity stored in the onboard batteries once charging stations are built at ferry terminals. Until then, diesel fuel is being used to generate power.
A second vessel, the Island Aurora, is set to replace the Quadra Queen II on the Port McNeill–Alert Bay–Sointula route in mid-June. The subsequent four vessels are expected to be operating by 2022 on routes between Campbell River and Quadra Island, as well as between Nanaimo and Gabriola Island.
Each Island Class ferry is double ended for easy loading and unloading of 47 vehicles on wide lanes, as well as dedicated pedestrian walkways. The ferries have also been designed to be fully accessible without elevators.
Along with improved voyage efficiency, the battery-hybrid system will reduce emissions during interim operations. A heat recovery system will use waste thermal energy to warm the vessel while LED lighting everywhere will also save energy. The new ferry’s twin propellers are designed to reduce underwater radiated noise.