Two new minor class vessels are set to join the BC Ferries fleet.

Damen Shipyards Group of the Netherlands has been awarded a contract to build two new ships that will serve the Powell River – Texada Island route and the Port McNeill – Sointula – Alert Bay run.

Ferries President and CEO Mark Collins says the 59-year-old North Island Princess, which serves the Powell River – Texada Island route, will be retired.

“The other ship, the Howe Sound Queen, will be retired. Now the Quadra Queen II, which will leave the Port McNeill route, will go into a relief capacity in our fleet,” he says.

Collins notes that, “this will free up our current relief vessel to go down to the Crofton-Vesuvius Bay route serving Salt Spring Island, and relieve the [53-year-old] Howe Sound Queen.”

Collins says the new ships have many key features, including being much faster than the current vessels by about 2 to 3 knots. He notes the new ships will be very quiet and smooth.

The total project budget, which includes financing and project management costs, is estimated to be about $86.5 million CAD, with partial funding coming from the Government of Canada.

The new vessels are scheduled to go into service in the summer of 2020.