BC Ferries Awards Contract to Polish Shipyard

BC Ferries | BCBusiness

The crown corporation awards a $165-million contract for three new boats to a European shipyard, as the sole B.C. bidder backs out 

BC Ferries has awarded a $165 million contract for three new ships to Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A., a shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. The vessels will be the first in BC Ferries’ fleet to operate on liquid natural gas (LNG) for propulsion and power generation.
Two of the new ships will replace the half-century old Queen of Burnaby, which sails between northern Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, and the Queen of Nanaimo, which services the southern Gulf Islands from Tsawwassen.
To be delivered over the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017, the vessels will be able to accommodate 145 vehicles and 600 passengers.
One benefit of powering the ferries with LNG: potentially lower fares. “This is an exciting initiative for BC Ferries that can reduce upward pressure on fares due to lower fuel costs for LNG,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries VP of engineering, in a statement.
But for critics of BC Ferries’ open bid procurement policies—such as the labour-friendly Columbia Institute—awarding a multi-million dollar contract to a foreign shipyard, is lost opportunity for B.C.’s shipbuilding sector.
In a study released in March, the institute posited that made-in-B.C.-boats could lead to $378 million in economic growth, $100 million in tax revenues to the federal and provincial governments, and 1,100 new manufacturing jobs.
The authors of the study compared B.C.’s open bid process to the federal government’s national shipbuilding strategy and the “build local” process of the Washington state ferry system; both of which aim to support their respective shipbuilding sectors.
Seaspan, the only B.C. bidder, withdraw its proposal to build the three new intermediate class ferries after it was awarded an $11-billion contract to build defense vessels for the federal government. Seaspan has worked on past contracts for BC Ferries at its North Vancouver and Victoria shipyards.