VESSEL REVIEW | Island Discovery and Island Aurora – 81-metre newbuild Ro-Pax pair joins BC Ferries fleet

VESSEL REVIEW | Island Discovery and Island Aurora – 81-metre newbuild Ro-Pax pair joins BC Ferries fleet


Canada: BC Ferries recently took delivery of the first two of its new Island-class series of ferries at Victoria’s Point Hope Maritime, which will serve the Northern Gulf Islands off the coast of Vancouver.

The two ferries, Island Discovery and Island Aurora, are 81-metre Ro-Paxes built at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania. While currently on hold due to the coronavirus, the pair was supposed to enter service in mid-2020, serving the Powell River-Texada Island and Port McNeill-Albert Bay-Sointula routes respectively.

Island Discovery and Island Aurora are part of BC Ferries’ fleet renewal programme and will replace the 59-year old North Island Princess and 53-year old Quadra Queen II.

The vessels are designed to carry 47 vehicles and between 300 and 450 passengers and crew, depending on configuration. With 193 lane metres of car capacity and 68 lane metres for trailers, the main deck can hold 31 cars and two trailers. The car deck holds an additional 16 cars over 99 lane metres.

With the 300-passenger capacity of the first two vessels, there are a total of 141 seats available, 101 in the inside passenger lounge, and 40 outside. Crew amenities include a mess room, office and pantry.

Damen signed the contract for the two vessels in 2017, following an extensive, multi-phased international tender process. In November, Damen announced that it had secured a repeat order from BC Ferries for four additional Island-class ferries.

The Island-class vessels are battery equipped for full electric operation in the future. In the meantime, the ferries are equipped with hybrid equipment until shore charging infrastructure and funding becomes available in British Columbia. Damen said it paid close attention, in the design of the vessels, to reducing both emissions and underwater radiated noise.

The main propulsion for each ferry consists of a pair of electric motors, each rated for 950 kW at 1,700 rpm and driving Schottel STP 340 azimuthing thrusters. Provided with a propeller diameter of 1.85 metres, the STP enables a free-sailing speed of 14 knots.

By sharing the load between two propellers, the risk of cavitation is minimised and tip clearance is increased. Both of these characteristics, in turn, lead to lower under water radiated noise and vibration levels. This concept also improves the efficiency of the propulsion system and reduces fuel consumption compared to single propellers.

Click here for the other news, features and reviews comprising this month’s Passenger Vessel Week

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