British Columbia

Sponsor hopes christening of BC Ferries' new hybrid vessels will be smashing success

BC Ferries is set to welcome two new Island class ferries to its fleet at an official christening Wednesday afternoon, when the vessels' names will be revealed. 

2 diesel-electric ships to be named in ceremony Wednesday, with champagne smashed off their bows

The new Island class vessels are larger than their predecessors and will be powered by a diesel-electric hybrid system. (BC Ferries)

BC Ferries is set to welcome two new Island class ferries to its fleet at an official christening Wednesday afternoon, when the vessels' names will be revealed. 

The new diesel-electric hybrid ferries will operate on two routes: Port McNeill-Alert Bay-Sointula and Texada Island-Powell River.

Longtime Texada Island resident Sandy McCormick has been chosen as the community sponsor for the latter vessel.

"It's certainly a bit humbling," said McCormick, whose role is more than just a title. At Wednesday's ceremony, McCormick will be responsible for pulling off the cover that reveals the ship's new name. 

She will also cut the ribbon that releases a bottle of champagne, which will swing down and smash against the ship's bow — hopefully.

"I'm hoping that the bottle breaks," McCormick said. "Because if it doesn't break, that's a bad omen."

Larger, quieter ships

BC Ferries says the new ships will carry a maximum of 47 vehicles and up to 450 passengers and crew members. They will also be able to load and unload vehicles from either end of the vessel.

The ships will have a wider vehicle lane to allow for larger trucks.

One of their key features, according to BC Ferries, is their potential to eventually operate completely on electricity. 

Until "electronic technology matures to make electricity in the quantities required," the ships will be powered by a diesel-electric hybrid system, says BC Ferries on its website.

"It's also going to be quieter, which is a good thing," said McCormick.

Sandy McCormick says she is honoured to be chosen as the Texada Island community sponsor for one of BC Ferries' new hybrid vessels. (Sandy McCormick)

Island connection to ferries

McCormick says for island dwellers like herself, ferries are a crucial part of life.

"The ferry is your bus, it's your highway, it's your umbilical cord to the outside world. We ride that vessel through thick and thin, through stormy waters and through calm seas," said McCormick, who adds that dolphins and whales are often seen in the waters around Texada Island.

Because of that connection and dependance, McCormick says her community will miss the outgoing North Island Princess ferry, which has plowed the waters between Texada and the Sunshine Coast for the past 60 years.

"It's sad to say goodbye," she said, although she admits it's paired with excitement for the new vessel. 

With files from On the Island


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