New hybrid-electric ferries to be floated into local waters on Friday

Two new Island Class hybrid-electric ferries are berthed after their arrival at Ogden Point on Saturday morning for a five-day stop before moving to Point Hope Maritime. The Sun Rise heavy load carrier transported the two ferries on a 10,305-nautical-mile trip through the Panama Canal after they were built by Damen Shipyards Group in Romania. The battery-equipped ferries have been designed for future full electric operation, B.C. Ferries says. Their hybrid technology bridges the gap until shore charging infrastructure and funding becomes available. The ships will go into service on the Powell River-Texada Island and Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula routes by mid-year. Point Hope Maritime is re-commissioning the ships, required after the transport | Photo: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

Break out your binoculars to watch the two new Island-class hybrid-electric ferries float off their partially submerged carrier vessel into local waters on Friday morning.

The Sun Rise carrier, holding the ferries, will leave Ogden Point late tonight to anchor off Royal Roads.

“It will undergo the process of partially submerging throughout the night, so the two ferries are ready for unloading tomorrow (Friday) morning,” said B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Tessa Humphries.

It could take hours for the Sun Rise to partially submerge, she said.

B.C. Ferries recommends watching the unloading, which will see ferries float off the carrier, from Esquimalt Lagoon.

Friday’s timeline could change without notice given the scale of the operation.

“We are doing our best to let everyone know the approximate times as they stand now,” Humphries said.

Here is the tentative timeline:

• 10:30 a.m. — a tug will start towing the first ferry from the waters off Royal Roads University towards Point Hope Maritime on the Upper Harbour.

• Noon — first ferry should arrive at Point Hope.

• 2:30 p.m. — towing begins for the second ferry.

• 4 p.m. — second ferry arrives at Point Hope.

As the tugs tow the ferries through Victoria Harbour, they will pass under the raised Johnson Street Bridge.

The pedestrian platform by the bridge should provide a good view, Ferries recommends.

The Sun Rise carried the ferries from Romania, where they were built by Damen Shipyards Group, arriving at Ogden Point on Saturday morning.

Damen Shipyards Group has an agreement with Victoria-owned Point Hope to provide technical and warranty support. That means repair and maintenance work will be done in B.C.

Point Hope workers will re-commission the ships. They will test systems on the ferries and carry out final inspections.

The ferries will go into service on the Powell River-Texada Island and Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula routes by mid-year.

Four additional vessels have been ordered for the Campbell River-Quadra Island route and the Nanaimo Harbour-Gabriola Island route. They are expected to be in service by 2022.

Times Colonist