About BC Ferries

Spirit of Vancouver Island Mid-Life Upgrade

Spirit of British Columbia Mid-Life Upgrade

To prepare the vessel for another 25 years of safe and reliable service, the Spirit of Vancouver Island departed to Remontowa Ship Repair Yard S.A. of Gdansk, Poland, on September 14, 2018, for its mid-life upgrade. The Spirit of Vancouver Island services the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route, the busiest route in the fleet, and has been servicing this run since it joined the BC Ferries fleet in 1993. In June 2018, her sister ship, The Spirit of British Columbia returned to service after the successful completion of the same mid-life upgrade.

Highlights of the vessel’s extensive upgrade and conversion to clean technology include the following safety, mechanical, environmental and customer service improvements:

  • Conversion of the propulsion plant to run on dual fuel (natural gas and marine diesel oil)
  • New engines and an liquefied natural gas fuel system
  • Upgrades to more efficient air conditioning equipment
  • Upgrades to the passenger area with new carpeting and an additional washroom
  • Upgrades to the passenger elevators including renewal of mechanical and electrical drive components
  • Expansion of the gift shop and addition of the new Arbutus Coffee Bar
  • Renewal of 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

The conversion to dual fuel will help with both fare affordability and the reduction of BC Ferries’ environmental footprint. Liquefied natural gas costs significantly less than marine fuel and the use of natural gas to fuel the Spirit Class vessels will help reduce CO2 emissions by 12,000 tonnes annually, the equivalent of taking approximately 2,500 vehicles off the road per year.*

Spirit of Vancouver Island Mid-Life Upgrade Timeline

  • March 2016 – Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract signed with Remontowa Ship Repair Yard S.A. of Gdansk, Poland to conduct mid-life upgrades on both BC Ferries Spirit Class vessels
  • September 4, 2018 – The Spirit of Vancouver Island is removed from service to transit to BC Ferries’ Fleet Maintenance Unit to prepare for departure
  • September 14, 2018 – The Spirit of Vancouver Island departs under its own power to Remontowa Ship Repair Yard of Gdansk, Poland
  • Fall 2018 – The Spirit of Vancouver arrives at Remontowa Ship Repair Yard S.A. of Gdansk, Poland and the production execution phase of its mid-life upgrade commences
  • Winter 2019 – Mid-life upgrade complete; Spirit of Vancouver Island begins transit back to Canada
  • Prior to Summer 2019 – The Spirit of Vancouver Island returns to service on the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route

Frequently Asked Questions

What upgrades are being completed?
Highlights of the vessel’s extensive upgrade and conversion to clean technology include the following safety, mechanical, environmental and customer service improvements:

  • Conversion of the propulsion plant to run on dual fuel (natural gas and marine diesel oil)
  • New engines and an liquefied natural gas fuel system
  • Upgrades to more efficient air conditioning equipment
  • Upgrades to the passenger area with new carpeting and an additional washroom
  • Upgrades to the passenger elevators including renewal of mechanical and electrical drive components
  • Expansion of the gift shop and addition of the new Arbutus Coffee Bar
  • Renewal of 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

What is the benefit of operating primarily on natural gas?
Yes, the Spirit of Vancouver Island and the Spirit of British Columbia are sister ships and the upgrades and conversion to clean technology for both ships are exactly the same. Customers will enjoy the same layout and amenities on the Spirit of Vancouver Island when she returns to service as they’re currently experiencing on the Spirit of British Columbia.

Why isn’t the work being done in British Columbia?
In 2016, BC Ferries awarded a contract to Remontowa Ship Repair Yard S.A. of Gdansk, Poland to conduct the Spirit Class mid-life upgrades, which include the conversion of both vessels to dual fuel so they can operate on liquefied natural gas or ultra-low sulphur marine diesel. BC Ferries conducted an extensive competitive bidding process to ensure the company secured the best value bid. One shipyard from B.C. participated in the RFP process; however, they opted to withdraw from the process before the award decision. Remontowa Ship Repair Yard is the largest ship repair yard in Poland and ranks amongst the largest in Europe.

When will be vessel be returning to service?
The Spirit of Vancouver Island will return to service for the summer 2019 season.

Will the Spirit of Vancouver Island continue to service the Metro Vancouver to Vancouver Island route when it returns?
Yes, the Spirit of Vancouver Island will continue to service this route alongside the Spirit of British Columbia.

*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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