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BC Ferries vessel to be out for ‘weeks not days’ on Duke Point route

Sailing cancellations have hit following a serious mechanical failure on BC Ferries’ Coastal Rennaisance vessel and they’re not expected to end anytime soon.

It’s the second time a Coastal class vessel has been out of service this summer, with the Coastal Celebration out of action with a blade seal issue late last month.

BC Ferries CEO Nicholas Jimenez says the issue arose yesterday.

“Yesterday we had an issue arise in one of our afternoon sailings on the Coastal Renaissance in the engine room,” says Jimenez. “What we have learned is that there was a failure of the number two drive motor […] Essentially, we cannot sail this vessel with a failure in that drive motor.”

The company says this issue is debilitating for the vessel and they don’t actually know precisely how much needs to be fixed because of how little the inspection ports are. They’ve already been in contact with specialist contractors to deal with the problem. What they do know is that the vessel will be off the roster for a prolonged amount of time.

“This is not a simple fix,” says Jimenez. “This is in fact a very complicated fix that will take an extended period of time that’s likely to be measured in weeks, not days.”

Now the work ahead for the corporation is to plug and play with their sailings. He says that they are contractually obligated to run certain sailings per day on the route. While they do run more trips than are contracted, they will have to cancel some of those sailings to divert vessels to those contracted sailings.

The ferry service estimates that two thousand people with reservations will be impacted just this week and more in the coming weeks.

“We’re obviously going to work with customers to the extent that we’ll be able to find them places on other sailings, but we know that will not be possible for everybody,” says Jimenez.  “Anyone who had a reservation cancelled will get an immediate refund and a voucher for free travel at another time.”

They’re looking at offering more sailings on the route earlier in the morning and later at night than the existing schedule, to mitigate the total traffic loss during this period.

As of this point in time, Jimenez doesn’t see anything positive in this situation.

“I don’t see a silver lining in this right now and I don’t think the thousands of customers affected will as well,” he says. “We just hope people know that we are doing everything humanly possible to respond quickly.”

The corporation says that some sort of breakdown is to be expected at some point, especially considering that their ships typically run 18 hours a day for 330 days a year.

“The challenge we have here is running 37 vessels on 25 routes at 49 terminals,” says Jimenez. “We know these situations will come up from time to time. The issue is how do we respond, how quickly do we respond, and how effectively are we working to communicate with customers, our stakeholders, and the media to do as much as we can to get people through a difficult situation.”

They say they’re still looking into how this situation will affect travel on Labour Day, but will have a better idea in the coming days.

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