The BC Ferries’ Spirit of British Columbia returned to service on June 6 after a major mid-life upgrade which included her conversion to operate on natural gas (LNG).
The conversion was carried out at the Remontowa Shipyard, in Gdansk, Poland, and the conversion of her sister ship, the Spirit of Vancouver Island, will be carried out this winter. The two Spirit class ships are the largest in the fleet of BC Ferries and can carry around 360 cars and up to 2,100 passengers. They operate on the Metro Vancouver (Tsawwassen) - Victoria (Swartz Bay) route.
BC Ferries said the switch to LNG fuel is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 12,500 tonnes a year and fuel costs “will be reduced by millions.” Mark Collins, the line’s president and chief executive, said: “The two Spirit class ferries consume approximately 16 per cent of our fuel annually. Their conversion and the introduction of our three LNG-fuelled Salish class ferries last year goes a long way to improving the sustainability of our operations and affordability for ferry users.”
The line said the Spirit of British Columbia is the first passenger vessel in the world to refuel with LNG on a fully enclosed vehicle deck using a LNG tanker truck. The Salish class ferries were the first in the world to take on LNG fuel on an open vehicle deck also by tanker truck.
The LNG is supplied by FortisBC and its president and chief executive Roger Dall’Antonia said: “With BC Ferries, we developed the proprietary tanker truck technology to deliver fuel while it was on board the ship. Innovative solutions like this help make it easier for customers to make the switch to LNG.”