Quadra Islanders will have to wait until the New Year before their two new Island Class ferries begin serving the crossing from Campbell River.
“In January, we will be implementing two-ship service with two of our new Island Class vessels on the Campbell River – Quadra Island route, similar to the two-ship service we started on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route in the spring,” Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries Executive Director of Public Affairs, said.
The two new ships were originally scheduled to begin service in the spring but it was announced in April that because the ferry corporation was having troubling sourcing licenced officers for the boats, the vessels would begin service in the fall.
“Like so many industries and other ferry service providers around the world, we find ourselves in a challenging time coming out of the pandemic,” Marshall said in April. “Contributing factors to the shortages include higher than expected retirements in key shipboard positions, the impact of vaccination policies and difficulties recruiting international candidates due to COVID-19, as well as the 25-year global shortage of professional mariners.”
But the corporation has found enough crew members to staff the new vessels, allowing the corporation to put the new vessels into service in January.
“It did take us additional time to secure the crew required to operate the two ships,” Marshall said. “Now we are in the process of training and backfilling employees who are relocating from other routes around the fleet.”
The two-ship service will allow for the replacement of the Powell River Queen, which currently provides service on the route and which is up for sale.
“It has served our customers very well for many years,” Marshall said. “The vessel is currently for sale, as it will be surplus to our needs.”
The 57-year-old Powell River Queen is currently listed for sale by Iron Planet and has secured 17 offers with the highest bid being $200,000.
“We look forward to providing customers on the Campbell River – Quadra Island route with greater capacity and more frequency of service with the two-ship service,” Marshall said. “We hope they will enjoy the benefits also.”
The vessels, built in Romania, are battery operated for full electric operation, but hybrid technology will be used until shore charging infrastructure becomes available.