Critics say the new cable ferry from Buckley Bay to Denman Island is behind schedule and facing other challenges, but BC Ferries says the project is on budget and on track to save the corporation a fair chunk of change.
“Operational trials from a performance perspective have gone very well,” BC Ferries vice-president of engineering Mark Wilson said Wednesday.
Last Tuesday at the Legislative Assembly of B.C., NDP ferries critic Claire Trevena raised concerns about the project such as rusting cables and poor fuel consumption. The North Island MLA also questioned the vessel’s ability to stop and then regain speed. But Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the cable ferry will be safe and will save millions over the long-term.
“Our maximum specified contract speed was 8.5 knots. We’ve achieved 8.7 knots,” Wilson said, noting fuel consumption is far more economic than that of the self-propelled Quinitsa.
“The cable ferry is designed for sustained winds of 55 knots. It’s for over four hours at a steady 55 knots gusting to 85 knots, which is greater than the 100-year wind.
“The cables are performing as required in the saltwater,” Wilson added. “We’re going to have three different forms of measurement in place to measure the strength of the cables.”
The 78.5-metre ferry was constructed at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards. It operates with one drive cable and two guide cables. Three workers will operate the new vessel, which is the longest of its kind in the world. A crew of six operates the Quinitsa.
Wilson said BC Ferries is close to title transfer from Seaspan, after which there will be six to eight weeks of crew training and operational trials.
He expects the vessel to be ready for service early next year. Previously, he had hoped it would be ready this fall.
“But we’ve always stated on the record that we’re not in a rush,” Wilson said. “The Quinitsa is free and clear until April of next year. What we’re more focused on is making sure that everything is 100 per cent right.
“We’re on scope, we’re on budget, and the project is on track to save us $2 million each year in operational savings. So all of the indicators are pretty good.”