BC Ferries issues RFP for LNG-fueled newbuilds

Queen of Nanaimo will be more than 50 years old when replaced Queen of Nanaimo will be more than 50 years old when replaced

DECEMBER 10, 2013 — Canada's BC Ferries said yesterday that it has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to five pre-qualified shipyards, including one Canadian yard, to build three LNG fueled intermediate class ferries to replace the 48-year old Queen of Burnaby and the 49-year old Queen of Nanaimo. Both of these vessels are nearing the end of their service lives and will be retired in 2016.

BC Ferries announced its intention to build the replacement ferries back in July. At that time, it said it was considering the option of LNG fueling, but needed to conduct further analyses before reaching a decision. Clearly, those analyses proved favorable  for the LNG option.

BC Ferries intends to build two vessels capable of carrying 145 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew to replace the Queen of Burnaby, which sails between Comox and Powell River and to replace the Queen of Nanaimo, which services the Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands route. A third ferry capable of carrying 125 vehicles and up to 600 passengers and crew will also be built to augment peak and shoulder season service on the Southern Gulf Islands route, plus provide refit relief around the fleet.

Nine pre-qualified shipyards responded to a Request for Pre-Qualification. An RFP has now been issued to invite the following five pre-qualified shipyards to participate further in the procurement process to design and build the three intermediate class vessels:

Fiskerstrand Blrt As – Norway
Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft mbH & Co.KG – Germany
Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. – Poland
Seaspan Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. – Canada
Sefine Shipyard – Turkey

"As we embark on this next phase of our newbuild program, these vessels will set a new standard of efficiency for the fleet," said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries' Vice President of Engineering. "Currently we operate 18 classes of vessels in a fleet of 35 ships. This project is the stepping stone to eventually bring the fleet into potentially five classes of vessels. Standardization of vessel classes will achieve cost savings by building ships with standardized equipment and systems, which will save maintenance and training costs, realize service flexibility across various route options, and interoperability between vessels."

In the RFP, BC Ferries has stipulated that the three vessels be designed as dual-fuel capable. Specifically, they will be able to operate on either Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Marine Diesel Oil (MDO).

BC Ferries is pursuing funding under incentive programs to help offset any incremental capital costs associated with the use of LNG.

"We expect to operate these new intermediate class ferries with LNG, which will reduce our fuel costs, and in turn help reduce the upward pressure on fares. In addition, we expect to reduce our environmental footprint with a cleaner fuel source," said Mr. Wilson. "While other ferry operators have already adopted LNG as a fuel source, these will be the first ships in our fleet to utilize this natural resource which is abundant here in British Columbia."

The RFP closes at the end of February 2014 and after a detailed evaluation of the proposals received, BC Ferries expects to award a contract to the successful bidder in the spring of 2014. The two-145 vehicle ferries are expected to enter service in 2016 and the 125-vehicle ferry is expected to be in service in 2017.