BC Ferries directors have issued a statement defending corporation president David Hahn's employment contract, including its hefty pension benefit.

The statement comes in the wake of criticism of the pension, including pointed comments Monday from B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

Hahn has both a government pension and a supplementary plan that mean he can retire at 62 with total payments of nearly $315,000 a year.

"Our Board fully supports the decision that was made many years ago to compensate David Hahn and other senior executives at private sector rates," said chair Donald Hayes.

"Everyone needs to recall the sad state of affairs that existed just eight years ago when BC Ferries was created as an independent entity. BC Ferries was in a crisis state and the organization needed a complete overhaul by private sector leaders with a track record of success."

'Stuck with it'

Hayes also noted that the pension entitlements were confirmed by the legislature last year.

Clark said Monday that Hahn's pension was, "way, way too big… I understand why people are concerned about that. I'm concerned about it."

But Clark said the deal with Hahn is a legally binding contract and, "we are — as far as I can tell — stuck with it, sadly."

But Hayes said Tuesday that despite the criticism,  Hahn has been worth the expense.

"The [BC Ferries] overhaul has been successful, thanks to the leadership of David Hahn," Hayes said in his statement.

Hahn currently is paid about $1 million a year, including bonuses, an amount no future BC Ferries CEO will make after the legislature also moved last year  to limit Crown corporation salaries.

Hahn's contract runs to 2013.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies