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BC Ferries vessel damaged after ‘hard landing’ at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

A vehicle ramp on the Spirit of Vancouver Island was damaged after the ferry hit the dock at the Tsawwassen terminal, leaving some passengers unable to disembark for hours.
A vehicle ramp on the Spirit of Vancouver Island was damaged after the ferry hit the dock at the Tsawwassen terminal, leaving some passengers unable to disembark for hours. Nancy Edwards / submitted

The Spirit of Vancouver Island had what BC Ferries called a “hard landing” Saturday when it hit the pier as it was docking at Tsawwassen.

The ship had departed from Swartz Bay at 3 p.m. and reached Tsawwassen around 4:30 p.m.

“Upon arrival at Tsawwassen [the vessel] had a docking incident where the ship experienced a hard landing,” BC Ferries communication manager Tessa Humphries said.

“Fortunately there were no injuries to passengers or crew, but there was some damage to the ship.”

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READ MORE: BC Ferries vessel strikes dock at Langdale terminal

Chris Morris was on board.

“All of a sudden there was a really big jolt and the vehicles slid a little bit. The people that were waiting to get off on foot, they almost fell over,” Morris said.

“They opened the front gate and then we saw that the ramp was all destroyed.”

That meant passengers on that deck — which Morris said were mainly people driving semi trucks — couldn’t disembark.

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He was stuck on board for about four hours while crews tried to figure out the best way to get everyone off. Passengers on the main deck were able to disembark earlier.

READ MORE: ‘Procedural error’ led to BC Ferries crash in March that stranded passengers

Humphries couldn’t tell Global News exactly how many passengers were waiting on board, but described it as “approximately half a deck of traffic.”

She said there was reduced service on board, thanks to precautions taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but crews were walking up and down handing out water, juice and other supplies.

The passengers were finally able to disembark at around 9 p.m., after welders had repaired some of the damage so that the trucks could drive off.

BC Ferries had to cancel two Spirit of Vancouver Island sailings as a result of the incident, but added two more Spirit of British Columbia sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay to ensure essential travel could still continue.

A spokesperson said Sunday that the incident did not affect the day’s sailings, as routes have already been reduced due to the pandemic.

—With files from Sean Boynton and Robyn Crawford