1703-14-Salish Orca (Remontowa)

On 3rd July 2014 BC Ferries awarded a $165 contract for three liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled Intermediate Class passenger and vehicle ferries. Following the completion of an extensive competitive bidding process, BC Ferries presented Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. of Gdansk, Poland with the task of building the trio. The total project budget of $252 million included financing and project management costs that would have been incurred regardless of where the vessels were built. The budget also included $51 million for Canadian taxes and federal import duties. Favourable payment terms were also negotiated with 80% payment upon completion of each vessel.

BC Ferries had conducted an extensive competitive bidding process to ensure that the company secured the best bid for its customers and the taxpayers of British Columbia. One shipyard from BC, Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyard, was among the five shipyards shortlisted and invited to participate in the selection process, however they decided to withdraw as they indicated that they had maximised their available capacity due to commitments with the federal government building vessels under the National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy as well as constructing BC Ferries’ new cable ferry.

The construction project for the new ferries marked the start of a standardisation programme to provide BC Ferries with five classes of ship from the present 17 varieties. The Intermediate Class as they’re known are the company’s first dual-fuel capable vessels, able to use either LNG or diesel fuel for propulsion and onboard power.

As with many operators, LNG has been selected as a fuel to take advantage of lower operating costs and to reduce the environmental emissions thanks to LNG’s trademark cleaner and greener properties. The first two ships will replace the 4,903gt/1965 built Queen of Burnaby on the Comox-Powell River service and the 4,939gt/1964 built Queen of Nanaimo on the Tsawwassen-Southern Gulf Islands route. The third vessel will augment peak and shoulder season services on the Southern Gulf Islands route, plus provide refit relief around the fleet. Under contract to the Province of British Columbia, BC Ferries is the service provider responsible for the delivery of safe, efficient and dependable ferry service along coastal British Columbia using 34 vessels serving 47 destinations. British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., operating as BC Ferries (BCF), is a former provincial Crown corporation, now an independently managed, publicly owned company. BC Ferries provides all major passenger and vehicle ferry services for coastal and island communities in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The company was formed in 1960 to provide a similar service to that provided by the Black Ball Line and the Canadian Pacific Railway, which were affected by strike action at the time. BC Ferries is now the largest passenger ferry line in North America and the second largest in the world. The vital service provided results in the sea routes being subsidised by the British Columbia Government. The inland ferries operating on British Columbia’s rivers and lakes are not the responsibility of BC Ferries.

First in Class

The steel was cut for the first of the three Intermediate Class Ferries at the Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. shipyard in Gdansk, Poland, during the week beginning 12th January 2015, accompanied by a small ceremony with representatives in attendance from BC Ferries and Remontowa. The shipyard is a member of the Remontowa Holding capital group specialising in ship conversions and repairs, design and construction of new ships, offshore units and steel structures. The facility was established in 1952 and privatised in 2001. Remontowa S.A. has since become a leader among the European shiprepair yards and a major player in the world market. Presently Remontowa S.A. is the largest repair and conversion yard in Poland and one of the biggest in the world. Every year, over 200 vessels from all over the world are repaired or converted here, including passenger and car ferries, all types of tankers, offshore support vessels, car carriers, container carriers, reefers, bulk carriers, ro-ro vessels, dredgers, drilling rigs and jack-up drilling platforms. The steel for the second ferry was cut on 10th April 2015 and the ceremony for the third followed during the first week of July 2015.

Each member of the Intermediate Class has an overall length of 107.2m and a beam of 23.5m. The frame spacing is 600mm, the hull depth from the lower vehicle deck is 6.6m and the draught is 4.65m. The gross tonnage amounts to 8,728gt, the ship’s displacement is 4,225t and the deadweight is 864dwt.

The double-ended vessels are each 8 decks high. On Deck 1 can be found the 130m3 capacity LNG tank (amidships), flanked by an engine room fore and aft. The forward engine room houses one Wartsila 8 cylinder in-line medium speed Dual Fuel (Gas/Diesel) generator set (W8L20DF) of 1480kW output plus one Nordhavn/Scania Marine Emergency Diesel Generating Set Type GASC 13-06E with a prime power rating of 325 kW/406 kVA at 1800 rpm. The aft engine room contains two Wartsila 8 cylinder in-line medium speed Dual Fuel (Gas/Diesel) W8L20DF generator sets of 1480kW output each. At either end of the hull is a single Schottel STP 1515 twin propeller azimuthing thruster, each of 1750kW output. The propellers are 2,450mm diameter fixed pitch units. Besides the LNG tank, 95m3 of Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel Oil (ULSD) is carried. The LNG can be delivered to the ferries by truck in the same manner that diesel fuel has been for over 50 years. The service speed for the ferries is 15.5 knots and acceleration time to 12 knots is 125 seconds. Under the terms of the building contract, if the vessels were more than 2/10 of a knot below specification, a penalty of approximately $125,000 could be levied for each 2/10 of a knot up to one knot. If the vessels were more than one knot less than the guaranteed speed, BC Ferries could rescind the contract for a full refund. Deck 1 also offers a technical room fore and aft plus the switchboard, Engineer’s mess room etc.


Deck 2 is the lower vehicle deck with technical rooms at either end. This garage deck is accessed via two 3.2m wide lanes at either end. These entry and exit lanes are covered by hoistable hatch covers that form part of the upper vehicle deck when closed. The clear height of the garage deck is 2.9m, the car lanes are 2.6m wide (generally 6 lanes are available on Deck 2) and the axle load is 0.9t. Deck 3 is the main vehicle deck that caters for both cars and commercial vehicles. The deck areas fore and aft are inclined to provide the clear height beneath for the garage deck. The outer two lanes are 3.2m wide for HGVs with a narrower centre “lane” fore and aft for foot passenger access to the stairways and lifts located in the centre casing. The clear height of the upper deck is 4.75m with an axle load of 9.1t. The overall vehicle deck area is 2,015m2 for Decks 2 & 3. The ship is accessed at either end via an 8.58m wide embarkation point before traffic is split between the two decks. Across each end of the ship during transit is a bow visor measuring approximately 7m high and 9m wide that rises via two hydraulic rams. The vehicle access clear height matches that of Deck 3, i.e. 4.75m. A total of 775 lanemetres are available on the car decks for 145 car equivalent units (CEU 6.1m long/2.6m wide/2t) and 10 articulated HGVs (23m long/32t approx. each and included in the 145 CEU total). A Mezzanine Deck around the perimeter of what is Deck 3A caters for mooring decks and companionways. Deck 4 is the passenger accommodation, divided into two halves across the centre. The aft area is a lounge, toilets, outside deck etc and the forward accommodation consists of a cafeteria, galley, toilets and a sun deck. The total passenger capacity is 585 with a crew of 13-16. Deck 5 includes sun decks fore and aft plus the crew accommodation area that comprises 16 single cabins for officers and crew, changing rooms, training room, pantry and A/C room. One level higher on Deck 6 is the Officer’s Deck (offices and Captain/Chief Engineer’s bedrooms/day rooms) followed by the Cofferdam and, finally, Deck 7 where the centrally positioned navigation bridge is located. (The top of the bridge is Deck 8). The vessels are constructed for a service life of approximately 40 years.

The keel was laid for the first in the series of newbuilds on 5th March 2015. On 19th May 2015 BC Ferries opened a contest to name the three ferries, and name suggestions were open to the public.

BC Ferries’ employees and customers could submit proposed names with a shortlist being drawn up by a panel of judges comprised of representatives from local media, Ferry Advisory Committees, and BC Ferries’ employees. All submissions were entered into a database and identified numerically to ensure independence in judging. Names of BC Ferries’ vessels follow a specific protocol: the first part of the name refers to the class of vessel, such as “Coastal” while the second part of the name is descriptive, such as “Celebration”, “Inspiration” and “Renaissance.” The competition closed on 9th June 2015 and the first ship was launched on 21st November 2015. Five days later the class and first vessel names were announced when the Salish Orca was christened at Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A. in Gdansk by her sponsor, Margaret McDonagh, BC Ferries’ Senior Chief Steward on the Queen of Burnaby. The name Salish Orca was chosen to honour the Coast Salish people and the Salish Sea where the ship will operate. The other two ferries would become the Salish Eagle and Salish Raven. It had also been decided to bestow hull artwork on the Salish Class trio so on 20th January 2016 BC Ferries, in partnership with the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, announced that it had selected three Coast Salish artists to create designs for the new vessels. The artists commissioned to produce artwork for the new ships were Darlene Gait from Esquimalt Nation for the Salish Orca, John Marston from Stz’uminus for the Salish Eagle, and Thomas Cannell from Musqueam for the Salish Raven. From 37 expressions of interest, a jury of artist peers and BC Ferries representatives identified a shortlist of nine artists. Their decisions were based on artistic excellence, Coast Salish artistic style, ability to express the vessel names through artwork, ability to provide digital images for fabrication and ability to meet the project timeline.

The Salish Orca’s hull wrap by Darlene Gait depicted, with optimistic colour and energy, a pod of orcas appearing as a family moving through the water. On 14th September 2015 the artwork for the Salish Eagle was revealed in the form of a bold depiction of beautiful red eagles adorning the hull with the Salish Raven’s hull being Raven themed. On 3rd June 2016, the official naming ceremony of Salish Eagle and Salish Raven took place at Remontowa. The Godmothers were Michelle Le Tourneau and Mrs. Jodi Gaudet.

It’s a Wrap

In October 2016 the Salish Orca was wrapped in a ferry sized decal at the shipyard, bringing the pod of orcas artwork to life. The decal was produced by Ampco Grafix of Coquitlam, British Columbia, an award winning large format graphics printer. Once fitting out and sea trials were completed the ship was made ready for her epic voyage to her new home in British Columbia. The Salish Orca departed Gdansk on 22nd November 2016 on her 10,440 nautical mile and 50 day journey. The passage included stops for refuelling in Santa Cruz, Canary Islands, and Panama City, Panama, prior to transitting the Panama Canal and sailing up the west coast of North America to British Columbia.

The Salish Orca went through the Panama Canal on 18th December having spent five days waiting on the eastern side of the canal before she could begin the transit. The journey through the 80- kilometre canal took all day. Prior to this the ship had stopped at Santa Cruz, Canary Islands on 30th November (departed 1st December) to refuel and embark supplies. A triumphant arrival was made at BC Ferries’ Richmond facility on 11th January. The voyage went well and the ferry operated on both LNG and diesel during the trip, plus three BC Ferries crew members were aboard to familiarise themselves with the ferry. The crew for the delivery voyage was provided by Remontowa as the voyage was their responsibility as part of the contract. After inspection the Salish Orca moved to Tsawwassen for crew training. All being well she will enter service on schedule by early spring on the Powell River-Comox route. The Salish Eagle and Salish Raven will follow in the Orca’s wake as 2017 progresses.

With special thanks to Deborah Marshall, Executive Director, Public Affairs & Corporate Development, British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. for the information, diagrams and images.

Technical Specifications

Contract Date 3rd July 2014
Steel Cutting 12th January 2015
Keel Laid 5th March 2015
Launched 21st November 2015
Shipyard Remontowa Shipbuilding S.A.
Place of build Gdansk, Poland
Yard No Not Supplied
Owner British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
Operator British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
Service Comox-Powell River
IMO 9750270
Flag Canada
Port of Registry Victoria
Classification Lloyd’s Register: +100 A1 Passenger/Vehicle Ferry +LMC, GF, CCS, IWS, PCAC 3, 3 Eco (A, GW, NOx2, P, R, SOx, DIST, IHM)
Ship Type Passenger/Vehicle Ferry
Length Overall 107.2 metres
Length (BP) 103.45 metres
Beam 23.5 metres
Hull Depth 6.6 metres (lower vehicle deck)
Draught 4.65 metres
Gross Tonnage 8,728
Displacement 4,225 tonnes
Net Tonnage Not Supplied
Deadweight 864dwt
Frame spacing 600 mm
Main Engine 3 x Wartsila 8 cylinder in-line medium speed Dual Fuel (Gas/Diesel) generator set (W8L20DF) of 1480kW output each
Dual Fuel LNG/Marine Diesel Oil
Propulsion Thrusters 2 (1 each end) x Schottel STP 1515 Twin Prop Azimuthing Thrusters of 1750kW output each
Propellers 2450 mm fixed pitch
Auxiliary Engine 1 x Nordhavn/Scania Marine Emergency Diesel Generating Set Type GASC 13-06E, Prime Power Rating 325 kW / 406 kVA at 1800 rpm
Service Speed 15.5 knots
Crew 13-16
Crew Cabins 16
Passenger Capacity 585 passengers
Vehicle Capacity 2 fixed decks. Upper Open/Lower Closed of 775 lane m. 145 Automobile Equivalents (6.1m x 2.6m, 2 tonnes). 10 Semi-Trailers (23m, 32 tonnes average), included in the 145 AEQ
LNG Capacity 130 m3
ULSD 95 m3 (Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel Oil)
Water Capacity 29 m3 Potable Water/29m3 Technical Water
Facilities 1x aft seating lounge/1x forward cafeteria area


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