In the December 30 edition of the Undercurrent, BC Ferries conveyed its plans to convert the Queen of Capilano to LNG fuel later this year. This week, Mark Collins, BC Ferries' vice president of engineering, said that this "timeline was not realistic" and that the LNG conversion is not likely to happen before the Queen of Capilano goes for a major overhaul in three years time.
"The news is that we are not able to proceed with the conversion of the Queen of Capilano as hoped," Collins said. "We are not able go through the process in the [coming] winter."
Collins explained that BC Ferries' suppliers have indicated that "there are some risks to the ability to supply the necessary equipment on time." He added, "We don't want to plan for it and risk that it can't be done."
"We had hoped that this would not be the case as the Queen of Capilano would be the perfect ship to be the lead ship for [LNG fuel] conversion," Collins said. "But the ships can only be taken out of service at a certain time."
Collins said that the Queen of Capilano is scheduled to go through a mid-life upgrade in about three years. He said, "When ships are halfway through their life, they typically go to the shipyard and we rework the systems." At that time, the Queen of Capilano's engine system, the propulsion and navigation systems and the safety system will be checked and upgraded, says Collins. He added that he expects the conversion to LNG fuel to happen at that time.
He said, "We tried to do it faster but it is not working out. With the Queen of Capilano, it can't get done in the time frame we envisioned."
In the meantime, BC Ferries will turn its attention to a different vessel, according to Collins. He said, "We are very keen on LNG. It is a clean fuel and it is cost effective and we are looking for the next best opportunity. We are hoping for a project as soon as possible, but with a timeline that allows us to do it right."
With the conversion to LNG fuel postponed, the Queen of Capilano will not be taken out of service this coming winter other than the scheduled regular refit, says Collins, and the Island Sky will not service Bowen Island in the interim.
"It was a great opportunity, we were excited about the possibility to have the Island Sky do this run as it was optimized for Snug Cove," Collins said. "But it was only coming for the purpose of relieving the Queen of Capilano."