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BC Ferries receives delivery of new hybrid electric Island Class ferries

BC Ferries' two new Island Class vessels are seen secured to the partially submersible transport vessel Sun Rise on Jan. 18, 2020. BC Ferries

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid electric vessels are slated to be unloaded in Victoria on Friday morning.

The new ships arrived at Ogden Point last week on a semi-submersible transport vessel and will now be unloaded at Point Hope Maritime, where they will be made ready for service.

The unique transport vessel carrying the ferries partially submerged overnight to let the ferries float freely.

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READ MORE: BC Ferries awards contract for 4 more electric hybrid vessels to Dutch company

BC Ferries says tugs will move in to begin pushing the first ferry to Point Hope Maritime around 10 a.m., with the second ferry going around 2 p.m.

People who wish to watch the process are advised to head to Esquimalt Lagoon for a good view.

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Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge will also be raised in order to allow the ships to move to Point Hope Maritime.

Contractors with Point Hope will start the ships’ systems up for the first time and conduct inspections, according to BC Ferries.

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When that process is complete, BC Ferries will take possession of the two ships, christen them and proceed to crew training.

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BC Ferries is touting the new class of vessels as a significant environmental upgrade.

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They are powered by a hybrid diesel-electric system, but the company says that when charging technology improves, they will be able to run fully on electricity.

READ MORE: BC Ferries need to go slower, quieter, NEB says in Trans Mountain decision

The company says the ships’ new propeller design and the future use of an electric drive system will both significantly cut down on underwater noise.

Limiting underwater noise has become a key priority for B.C.’s marine traffic amid growing concern about the endangered southern resident killer whale population.

The first two Island Class ferries cost $86.5 million, and in November, BC Ferries ordered four more from Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group at a cost of $200 million.

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