NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C. – The sailing wait for the Northern Sea Wolf was much longer than expected – as in nearly a year.
The vessel that will take passengers from Port Hardy to Bella Coola was originally set to begin direct sailings last summer, according to BC Ferries executive director of public affairs Deborah Marshall.
But major delays – including more work on the ship than what was originally anticipated to bring it up to BC Ferries standards – will keep it docked until June.
“We’ve done extensive renovations to the vessel and it did take longer than originally anticipated,” Marshall said.
“But that ship will be going into service this summer and it’ll be sailing directly between Bella Coola and Port Hardy.”
In mid-September, the ship moved from the Esquimalt Dry Dock in Victoria to BC Ferries’ retrofit facility in Richmond, where workers will continue the upgrades before commencing sea trials, system testing, and crew training at the end of March.
“We’re very excited to get the ship into service this summer,” Marshall said.
The Northern Sea Wolf has a capacity of 35 vehicles and roughly 150 passengers and according to Marshall, will be in sharp demand during the tourism season.
Once complete, the vessel will include an elevator, and a newly renovated galley, bridge, engine room, emergency generator, and passenger area.
“This will help open up this tourism route and I think the folks up there are really excited about having this service starting up,” Marshall said.
The vessel will offer a direct seasonal service during the summertime and will serve as a connector from Bella Bella to Bella Coola in the winter months.
To accommodate the Northern Sea Wolf, BC Ferries completed $10 million worth of upgrades to the Ocean Falls, Bella Coola, Shearwater, and Bella Bella berths.