About BC Ferries

Spirit of British Columbia Mid-Life Upgrade

The Spirit of British Columbia has returned to service on the Metro Vancouver (Tsawwassen) - Vancouver Island (Swartz Bay) route following the completion of a mid-life upgrade. The vessel was converted to operate on natural gas, which is much cleaner for the environment. This vessel is the first of two vessels to be converted to natural gas. The Spirit of Vancouver Island will undergo a mid-life upgrade from fall 2018 to spring 2019. BC Ferries expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 12,500 tonnes annually, the equivalent of taking approximately 2,500 vehicles off the road per year, by using natural gas to fuel the two Spirit Class vessels.*

BC Ferries is a leader in North America when it comes to clean and innovative technology that lowers emissions. The Spirit of British Columbia is the first passenger vessel in the world to refuel liquefied natural gas via delivery on a fully enclosed vehicle deck. The Salish Class vessels introduced last year were the first passenger vessels in the world to fuel liquefied natural gas on an open vehicle deck via delivery truck. Both of these innovations were conceived by BC Ferries and designed, engineered and built by BC Ferries and its partners. The natural gas is provided by FortisBC and can be reliably delivered in B.C., which supports the local economy. These innovations saved BC Ferries’ customers more than $100 million in infrastructure costs that would have otherwise been required and have proven significant environmental benefits.

Highlights of the vessel’s extensive upgrades include the following safety, mechanical, environmental and customer service improvements:

  • Conversion of the propulsion plant to dual-fuel (natural gas and marine diesel oil)
  • New engines and a natural gas fuel system
  • Upgrades to more efficient air conditioning equipment
  • Upgrades to the passenger area including new carpeting and an additional washroom
  • Upgrades to the passenger elevators including the renewal of mechanical and electrical drive components
  • Expansion of Passages from 1,450 sq ft. to 2,900 sq ft.
  • Addition of the new Arbutus Coffee Bar on Deck 6
  • Renewal of the propulsion equipment components including rudders, steering system, bow thrusters, propellers and gearboxes
  • New machinery control system, navigation system, internal communication system and safety and evacuation systems

Passenger amenities on board the Spirit of British Columbia include: the Pacific Buffet, Coastal Café, Arbutus Coffee Bar, Passages, work stations, mobile charging stations, Kids Play Areas, a number of passenger lounge areas and an enclosed Pet Area on Deck 4. The ship complies with accessibility requirements for persons with disabilities when travelling by ferry, including an Induction loop hearing system installed in the Deck 5 forward passenger lounge and at key customer interaction points.

Project Gallery

Departing Gdansk Poland Departing Gdansk Poland View form the stern in dry dock View from the bow View from the port side View from the port side View from the port side

About the Spirit Class

  • The Spirit Class vessels were built in 1993 and 1994 in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, by Integrated Ferry Constructors and have an approximate service life of 50 years
  • The Spirit Class vessels measure 167 metres in length
  • Each vessel can carry approximately 358 vehicles across two car decks and up to 2,100 passengers and crew with a service speed of 19.5 knots The vessel is equipped with four marine evacuation systems with life rafts, four rescue boats, smoke and natural gas detection alarms, and state-of-the-art fire suppression systems
  • Both ships service the Metro Vancouver – Victoria (Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay) route, which is the busiest in the fleet

*The operation on natural gas will result in a reduction of 1,332 kg CO2eq from the vessel and 5,714 kg CO2eq per round trip when the lifecycle emissions are considered. The annual emission reductions from 1,100 round trips per vessel per year amount to 6,285 tonnes of GHG emissions. This emission reduction is the equivalent of taking 1,257 passenger cars off the road. (Transport Canada reported in 2009 on the average fuel consumption of a passenger vehicle. More information can be found at tc.gc.ca/eng/policy/anre-menu-3042.htm)

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