BC Ferries

BC Ferries

company_name = British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.
company_type = Organized as a privately held company, with the provincial Crown as sole shareholder
foundation = Victoria, British Columbia (1960)
location = Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
key_people = Elizabeth J. Harrison, Chair
David Hahn, President & CEO
industry = Transportation
products = Ferry service
revenue = gain C$640.7 million (2008)cite web |url=http://www.bcferries.com/bcferries/faces/attachments?id=16783|title=BC Ferries Releases Year-end Results |accessdate=2008-06-12 |date=2008-06-12 |format=PDF |pages=4]
operating_income = gain C$71 million (2008)
net_income = loss C$37 million (2008)
num_employees = 3,153 (2005)
slogan = Life on the coast.
homepage = [http://www.bcferries.com/ www.bcferries.com]

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. or BC Ferries (abbr. BCF) is a "de facto" Crown Corporation that provides all major passenger and vehicle ferry services for coastal and island communities in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Set up in 1960 to provide a substantially better service than those provided by the Black Ball Line and the Canadian Pacific Railway, which were affected by job action at the time, BC Ferries has become the largest passenger ferry line in North America and the second largest in the world, boasting a fleet of 37 vessels with a total passenger and crew capacity of over 27,000, serving 49 locations on the B.C. coast.

As BC Ferries provides an essential link from mainland Canada to the various islands on its routes, it is subsidized by Transport Canada. The subsidy for 2004-2005 was CAD $25 million [ [http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=4138541b-8cb4-4498-998e-2a90e5caf1db&k=7083 "Vancouver Sun" article (see last paragraph for subsidy information)] ] and is adjusted annually to keep pace with the rate of inflation.


In the late 1950s, a strike by employees of the Black Ball Line caused the Social Credit government of W.A.C. Bennett to decide that the coastal ferry service in B.C. needed to be government-owned, and so he set about creating BC Ferries.

BC Ferries' first route, commissioned in 1960, was between Swartz Bay, a small suburb of Sidney on Vancouver Island, and Tsawwassen, a part of the Corporation of Delta, using just two vessels. These ships were the MV Tsawwassen [ [http://www.bcferries.com/about/fleet/profile-queen_of_tsawwassen.html BC Ferries: ] ] , which is still in use on a smaller route, and the MV Sidney which has been retired. The next few years saw a dramatic growth of the B.C. ferry system, as it took over operations of the Black Ball Line and other major private companies providing vehicle ferry service between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. As the ferry system expanded and started to service other small coastal communities, BC Ferries had to build more vessels, many of them in the first five years of its operations, to keep up with the demand. Another method of satisfying increasing demand for service was BC Ferries' unique "stretch and lift" program, involving seven vessels being cut in half and extended, and five of those vessels later cut in half again and elevated, to increase their passenger and vehicle-carrying capacities. The vast majority of the vessels in the fleet were built in B.C. waters, with only two foreign purchases and one domestic purchase. In the mid 1980s, BC Ferries took over the operations of the saltwater branch of the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways, which ran ferry services to very small coastal communities. This action dramatically increased the size of BC Ferries' fleet and its geographical service area. The distinctive 'dogwood on green' flag that BC Ferries used between 1960 and 2003 gave the service its popular nickname "the Dogwood Fleet".

At its inception, BC Ferries was a division of the British Columbia Toll Highways and Bridges Authority, a provincial Crown corporation. Through successive reorganizations, it evolved into the British Columbia Ferry Authority, and then the British Columbia Ferry Corporation, both of which, again, were provincial Crown corporations. In 2003, the Government of British Columbia announced that BC Ferries, which had been in debt, was going to be reorganized through the passage of the "Coastal Ferry Act" [ [http://www.leg.bc.ca/37th4th/1st_read/gov18-1.htm Legislative Assembly of British Columbia ] ] (Bill 18-2003). The single voting share of BC Ferries Corporation is held by the provincial government's BC Ferry Authority, which operates under the rules of the Act.

A controversy began in July, 2004 when BC Ferries, under a new American CEO, announced that the company had disqualified all Canadian bids to build three new Coastal class ships, and only the proposals from European shipyards were being considered. The contract is estimated at $542 million for the three ships, which are each designed to carry 370 vehicles and 1600 passengers.

The argument for domestic construction of the ferries is that it would employ numerous British Columbia workers, would revitalize the sagging B.C. shipbuilding industry, and entitle the provincial government to a large portion of the cost in the form of taxes. However, European shipbuilders had far more experience and shipyards that were more capable of constructing the ships at a significantly lower cost, and contract terms with European shipyards could be negotiated that were superior to what was likely to be available from B.C. shipbuilders.

On September 17, 2004, BC Ferries finally awarded [ [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/04-071-super_c_vessels.pdf Microsoft Word - 04-071 Super C.doc ] ] the vessel construction contract to Germany's Flensburger shipyard. The contract protects BC Ferries from any delays through a fixed price and fixed schedule contract, and the performance of the ferries is guaranteed with strong contractual requirements. "Coastal Renaissance" entered service in March 2008, while "Coastal Inspiration" was delivered the same month, and entered service in June. The third ship, "Coastal Celebration", has been delivered and is expected to begin service mid-fall of 2008.

On August 18, 2006, BC Ferries commissioned [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/06-049contracttobuildnewnorthernvessel.pdf] Flensburger to build a new vessel for BCF's Inside Passage route, with the contract having many of the same types of terms as that for the Coastal Class vessels. The new northern service vessel is to be delivered in Spring 2009.

Current routes


Route numbers are used internally by BC Ferries. All routes allow vehicles unless stated otherwise.

*Route 1 - Georgia Strait South (Highway 17): Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen
*Route 2 - Georgia Strait Central (Highway 1): Nanaimo (via Departure Bay) to Horseshoe Bay
*Route 3 - Howe Sound: Langdale to Horseshoe Bay
*Route 4 - Satellite Channel: Swartz Bay to Saltspring Island (at Fulford Harbour)
*Route 5 - Swanson Channel: Swartz Bay to the Outer Gulf Islands (Galiano, Mayne, Pender, and Saturna Islands)
*Route 6 - South Stuart Channel: Crofton to Saltspring Island (at Vesuvius)
*Route 7 - Jervis Inlet (Highway 101): Earls Cove to Saltery Bay
*Route 8 - Queen Charlotte Channel: Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island (via Snug Cove)
*Route 9 - Active Pass Shuttle: Tsawwassen to Saltspring Island and the Outer Gulf Islands (listed above in route 5)
*Route 10 - Inside Passage: Port Hardy to Prince Rupert
*Route 11 - Hecate Strait (Highway 16): Prince Rupert to Queen Charlotte Islands (via Skidegate)
*Route 12 - Saanich Inlet: Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay
*Route 13 - Thornbrough Channel: Langdale to Gambier Island and Keats Island (passengers only)
*Route 17 - Georgia Strait North: Powell River (via Westview) to Comox (via Little River)
*Route 18 - Malaspina Strait: Powell River to Texada Island (via Blubber Bay)
*Route 19 - Northumberland Channel: Nanaimo Harbour to Gabriola Island (via Descanso Bay)
*Route 20 - North Stuart Channel: Chemainus to Thetis and Kuper Islands
*Route 21 - Baynes Sound: Buckley Bay to Denman Island (via Metcalf Bay)
*Route 22 - Lambert Channel: Denman Island (via Gravelly Bay) to Hornby Island (via Shingle Spit)
*Route 23 - Discovery Passage: Campbell River to Quadra Island (via Quathiaski Cove)
*Route 24 - Sutil Channel: Quadra Island (via Heriot Bay) to Cortes Island (via Whaletown)
*Route 25 - Broughton Strait: Port McNeill to Alert Bay (on Cormorant Island) and Sointula (on Malcolm Island)
*Route 26 - Skidegate Inlet: Skidegate (on Graham Island) to Alliford Bay (on Moresby Island)
*Route 30 - Mid-Island Express (Highway 19): Nanaimo (via Duke Point) to Tsawwassen
*Route 40 - Discovery Coast: Port Hardy to Bella Coola (with stops at Bella Bella, Shearwater, Ocean Falls and Klemtu)


Numbers in blue circles are ferry route numbers. Provincial highway trailblazers are added where appropriate.

Regional districts served

* Capital
* Central Coast
* Comox Valley
* Cowichan Valley
* Metro Vancouver
* Mount Waddington
* Nanaimo
* Powell River
* Skeena-Queen Charlotte
* Strathcona
* Sunshine Coast


BC Ferries has the largest fleet of vehicle ferry vessels in the world. There are 36 vessels, ranging from small 16-car ferries up to 470-car "superferries". All of the vessels in use by BC Ferries are "roll-on, roll-off" car ferries. Most of the major vessels are based on similar designs which are aggregated into "classes" of ferries:

Current Vessels

* Three Coastal class vessels; two in service, one awaiting crew training.
* Two S class or "superferries", the largest in the fleet
* Five C class, double-ended ferries
* Three V class. Built in the 1960s, these ferries have been stretched and lifted to increase their capacity. BC Ferries plans to retire these vessels in 2008 once all three of their new Coastal (Super-C) class ships built in Germany are in service. Plans to sell these vessels were formally announced in January, 2008.
* Three Burnaby class. Built in the 1960s, these ferries have been stretched to increase their capacity, except for the "MV Queen of New Westminster", which has been stretched and lifted.
* Two Intermediate class vessels.
* Three Powell River class ships.
* One Sidney class ferry.
* One Century class vessel. As the name suggests, this vessel can carry 100 cars per load, for use on busy, short inter-island routes.
* Four K class and Two Q class ships, for small inter-island routes.
* Two T class ships.
* Other ships of BC Ferries (not classed)

Future Vessels

* "MV Island Sky" (2008)
* "MV Northern Expedition" (2009)

Former Vessels

* Retired BC Ferries ships
* FastCat Series


"The following is a summary of some of the incidents which have occurred in the BC Ferries fleet:"

Queen of Victoria

On August 2, 1970 the Soviet freighter "Sergey Yesenin" collided with the "Queen of Victoria" in Active Pass, slicing through the middle of the ferry, days after her return to service following stretching. Three people were killed and damage was estimated at over $1 million (1970) dollars. The Soviet ship was not supposed to be in Active Pass, and as such, the Soviet government was forced to compensate BC Ferries.

Years later, while in Active Pass and within metres of the site of the 1970 collision, the "Queen of Victoria" was disabled by a fire in the engine room.

Queen of Alberni

On August 9, 1979, the "Queen of Alberni" was transiting through Active Pass when it ran aground on Galiano Island, tipping fifteen degrees to starboard. Several large commercial vehicles on board the vessel at the time were damaged. No persons were injured, but a racehorse on board was killed.

On June 1989, the "Queen of Alberni" collided with the loading dock at Departure Bay causing significant damage to the ship and dock. 6 people were injured including a cook who suffered a fractured cheekbone as he was walking down a set of stairs.

On March 12, 1992, at 8:08 am (16:08 UTC), the "Queen of Alberni" collided with the Japanese freighter "Shinwa Maru" southwest of Tsawwassen. The collision occurred in heavy fog, with both vessels suffering minor damage. Injuries included 2 serious and 25 minor injuries for the 260 people on the ferry, while none of the 11 people aboard the freighter received injuries. [ [http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/reports/marine/earlier/m92w1022/m92w1022.asp Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on "Shinwa Maru"/"Queen of Alberni" collision] ]

Queen of Cowichan

On August 12, 1985 three people were killed when the "Queen of Cowichan" ran over a pleasure boat near the Horseshoe Bay terminal.

Queen of Saanich

On the morning of February 6, 1992 the "Queen of Saanich" and the "Royal Vancouver" passenger ship collided in heavy fog while navigating near the northern entrance of Active Pass. A total of 23 passengers aboard the "Royal Vancouver" were injured. Blame was cast upon the crew of the "Royal Vancouver" for failing to track the "Queen of Saanich" on radar, though both vessels were equipped with sophisticated radar systems.

Queen of New Westminster

In October, 1971, the "Queen of New Westminster" pulled out of her berth at the Departure Bay terminal while vehicle loading was in progress. A car and its two occupants fell into the water. Both of the vehicle's occupants were rescued.

In a similar incident, on August 13, 1992 the same vessel pulled out of her berth at the Departure Bay terminal while vehicle loading ramps were still lowered and resting on the ship. Three people were killed, one was seriously injured, and two others received minor injuries when a van from Alberta containing 6 people fell 15 m (about 50 ft) from the upper deck onto the lower car deck and finally into the sea below. The van was stopped and instructed to wait on the loading ramp by terminal crew members. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada determined that this accident was caused by the vessel not properly following departing procedures and secondarily due to poor communication between terminal and ship crew members. [ [http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/reports/marine/earlier/m92w1057/m92w1057.asp Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on "Queen of New Westminster" accident] ]

Mayne Queen

On November 7, 1995 the "Mayne Queen" departed from Snug Cove and ran into a neighbouring marina, heavily damaging a floating dock in addition to 12 small pleasure boats (one of which sank). The crash was primarily attributed to human error and while transferring steering and power control from one control panel to the other located in the ship. The captain of the vessel was also inexperienced with the "Mayne Queen" and normally piloted other vessels. More alarming was the fact that the captain promptly left the scene of the accident after the incident occurred without conducting a proper damage assessment. [ [http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/reports/marine/1995/m95w0195/m95w0195.asp Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on 1995 "Mayne Queen" accident] ]

On August 12, 1996 the "Mayne Queen" departed Swartz Bay terminal and ran aground off Piers Island after losing steering control. The grounding occurred while performing a regular weekly test of the batteries for the steering control system. A crew member overheard there was going to be a test and in an attempt to be helpful and without direction cut all power from the vessel's steering batteries as he had done at night when the ship was stored, not realizing the test in question only required the removal of a battery charger and that his assistance was neither requested nor required. No one was injured in the incident and the vessel was assisted off the rocks at high tide but she suffered extensive damage to her propulsion system, having two of the four steering and propulsion pods for the right-angle drives sheared off and one of the two remaining pods suffering propeller damage. [ [http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/reports/marine/1996/m96w0175/m96w0175.asp Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on 1996 "Mayne Queen" accident] ]

Spirit of Vancouver Island

On September 14, 2000 the "Spirit of Vancouver Island" collided with the 9.72 m (about 32 ft) "Star Ruby" while attempting to overtake the vessel in a narrow channel. The collision occurred approximately 1km (about ½ mi) from the Swartz Bay Terminal where the ferry had departed from. The "Spirit of Vancouver Island" struck the "Star Ruby" on its port side, causing the pleasure craft to flip over and eventually right itself, though swamped and heavily damaged. Two passengers aboard the "Star Ruby" later died as a result of their injuries sustained by the collision. [ [http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/reports/marine/2000/M00W0220/M00W0220.asp Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on "Spirit of Vancouver Island" accident] ]

Queen of Surrey

On May 12, 2003 the "Queen of Surrey" was disabled as a result of an engine room fire. The "Queen of Capilano" was dispatched and tethered to the "Queen of Surrey" while tugboats were dispatched. The vessel was then towed back to shore. None of the 318 passengers were injured, but several crew members were treated for minor injuries. Some buckling of the main car deck resulted from the heat of the fire. However, no vehicles were damaged in the incident. [ [http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/reports/marine/2003/m03w0073/m03w0073%5Findex.asp Canadian Transportation Safety Board report on "Queen of Surrey" engine fire] ]

Queen of Oak Bay

thumb|right|The_Queen of Oak Bay" after crashing into a marina on June 30, 2005.] On June 30, 2005 at about 10:10 in the morning (17:10 UTC), the vessel "Queen of Oak Bay", on the Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay (or Trans-Canada Highway) ferry route, lost power four minutes before she was to dock at the Horseshoe Bay terminal. The vessel became adrift, unable to change speed, but able to steer with the rudders. The horn was blown steadily and an announcement telling passengers to brace for impact was made minutes before the 139 m (456 ft) ship slowly ran into the nearby Sewell's Marina, where she destroyed or damaged 28 pleasure craft and subsequently went aground a short distance from the shore. No casualties or injuries were reported. [cite news | title=B.C. ferry runs aground in West Vancouver, hits marina and boats | publisher = The Seattle Times | date = 2005-06-30 | url = http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2002353141_webbcferry30.html ] [cite news | title=B.C. ferry that hit marina 'just kept coming' | publisher = CBC News | date = 2005-07-01 | url = http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2005/06/30/ferry-050630.html ] [ [http://www.boomcity.biz/librarybooks/ferry.html "Queen of Oak Bay" Collision Simulator] ]

On July 1, 2005, BC Ferries issued a statement that Transport Canada, the Transportation Safety Board, and Lloyd's Register of Shipping were reviewing the control and mechanical systems onboard to find a fault. An inspection revealed minimal damage to the ship, with only some minor damage to a metal fender, paint scrapes to the rudder, and some minor scrapes to one blade of a propeller.

On July 7, 2005, BC Ferries concluded that a missing cotter pin was to blame. The pin normally retained a nut on a linkage between an engine speed governor and the fuel control for one of the engines. Without the pin, the nut fell off and the linkage separated, causing the engine, clutches, and propellers to increase in speed until overspeed safety devices tripped and shut down the entire propulsion system. The faulty speed governor had been serviced 17 days before the incident during a $35-million upgrade and the cotter pin was not properly replaced at that time.

The "Queen of Oak Bay" was quickly repaired and tested at sea trials. She returned to regular service on July 8, 2005. A complete investigation report consisting of a 14-page Divisional Inquiry and a 28-page Engineering Incident Investigation was finally released in September 2006. [BC Ferries Corporation (September 25, 2006). " [http://www.bcferries.com/files/PDFs/InternalInvestigationsQueenofOakBay.pdf Queen of Oak Bay Grounding at Sewell’s Marina: Divisional Inquiry and Engineering Incident Investigation] ".]

The Transportation Safety Board's Marine Investigation Report, released on September 6, 2007, indicated that "inadequacies in BC Ferries' procedures on safety-critical maintenance tasks and on ship handling during berthing operations" were major contributing factors to the accident. It appears that insufficient oversight of work done by contractors also played a role in the accident.

Queen of the North

On March 22, 2006 the "M/V Queen of the North" sank 135 km (81 mi, 70 nautical miles) south of Prince Rupert, British Columbia when she struck Gil Island at approximately 1 a.m. PST. Two people from 100 Mile House went missing. David Hahn, CEO of BC Ferries states, "There is a real possibility that they went down with the ship." It is unlikely that it will be possible to salvage the "North".

Officials have determined the cause of this accident is due to human error by 3 BC Ferry and Marine Union members' neglecting their navigational duties. Charges are being considered of Criminal Negligence Causing Death, and a Class Action Lawsuit for the passengers is proceeding while the Union seeks to re-instate the fired crew who failed to provide information to the $1 million TSB enquiry. [ [http://www.bcferries.com/about/qnorthdivisionalinquiry.html BC Ferries: Divisional Inquiry ] ]


On January 9 2007, the MV "Quinsam" was loading traffic from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island when the ferry unexpectedly pulled out of its berth. A pickup truck that was on the boarding ramp plunged into the water below. Ferry workers were able to warn the truck's lone occupant, who was able to escape before the vehicle fell. [ [http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/01/10/ferry-gabriola-070110.html Truck rolls into harbour when Nanaimo ferry leaves dock early] ]


*BC Ferries is the title sponsor for the Vancouver Canucks 2007/2008 training camp as well as having advertising at GM Place.
*BC Ferries Also Sponsors the BC Lions CFL team with advertising and promotions during games. As well, BC Ferries offers special late night sailings from Tsawwassen on BC Lions game nights.
*BC Ferries is partnered with local food service companies such as White Spot Triple-Os and Bread Garden.
*BC Ferries also has a partnership with Sport BC.

ee also

*Alaska Marine Highway - Alaska's Marine Highway System, similar to BC Ferries. Also serves Prince Rupert.
*Black Ball Line
*British Columbia Ministry of Highways - responsible for the ferries on the lakes and rivers of the B.C. Interior.
*Fast Ferry Scandal - information about the Pacificat class of vessels that BC Ferries briefly operated.
*Georgia Strait Bridge - a controversial idea of replacing the ferry service with a fixed link between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland.
*Kootenay Lake Ferry, a ferry in the British Columbia interior operated by the BC Ministry of Transportation
*Marine Atlantic, An east-coast analogue of BCFerries.
*Washington State Ferries
*Inter-Island Ferry Authority

*Victoria Machinery Depot
*Burrard Dry Dock
*Allied Shipbuilders Ltd.
*Yarrow Shipbuilders
*Washington Marine Group - Originally called the Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd
*Vancouver Shipyard

External links

* [http://www.bcferries.com BC Ferries Official Site] :* [http://orca.bcferries.com:8080/cc/conditions/maps.asp BCF Vessel Tracking] - realtime vessel positions
* [http://www.bcfmwu.com BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union]
* [http://www.bcferrycommission.com Martin Crilly, Commissioner of BC Ferries]
* [http://www.geocities.com/ferries_bc The Ferry Terminal - Ferries of British Columbia]
* [http://www.pbase.com/kstapleton/root BC Ferries and Ships on the BC Coast] (very extensive photo galleries)


* Bannerman, Gary and Patricia. "The Ships of British Columbia - An Illustrated History of the British Columbia Ferry Corporation." Surrey: Hancock House Publishers, 1985

Press releases

*BC Ferries Corporation (June 13, 2005). " [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/05-037upgradedoak_bayreturnstoservice.pdf Upgraded Queen of Oak Bay Returns to Service] ". Press Release.
*BC Ferries Corporation (June 30, 2005). " [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/05-049queenofoakbay1.pdf Queen of Oak Bay Loses Power and Runs Aground] ". Press Release.
*BC Ferries Corporation (June 30, 2005). " [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/05-050updatequeenofoak_bay.pdf Update on Queen of Oak Bay Grounding Incident] ". Press Release.
*BC Ferries Corporation (July 1, 2005). " [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/05-052prelimiaryinspectionqueenofoakbay.pdf Investigation into Queen of Oak Bay Incident Continues] ". Press Release.
*BC Ferries Corporation (July 3, 2005). " [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/05-053insurance.pdf BC Ferries to Meet with Horseshoe Bay Boat Owners] ". Press Release.
*BC Ferries Corporation (July 5, 2005). " [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/05-055oakbayseatrials.pdf Queen of Oak Bay to Undergo Extensive Sea Trials] ". Press Release.
*BC Ferries Corporation (July 7, 2005). " [http://www.bcferries.com/news/files/05-056qobpreliminaryinvestigationresults.pdf Preliminary Investigation into Queen of Oak Bay Incident Released] ". Press Release.
*BC Ferries Corporation (March 22, 2006). " [http://www.bcferries.com/files/AboutBCF/06-014queenofthenorth2.pdf Queen of the North grounded and sank] ". Press Release.

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