Thursday, December 21, 2006

Northern Adventure requires a northern modification

Before the new ferry can arrive on the north coast there will need to be some infrastructure work done at a number of local ferry terminals. B. C. Ferries plans to spend 1 million dollars in Prince Rupert alone to modify the Rupert dock to receive the new vessel.

It seems that the new ship is wider than the current vessels in the fleet and thus requires a wider approach and a re-alignment of the current arrangement.

The Daily News had the story on the front page of Wednesday’s edition.

B.C. Ferries starting $1m upgrade to Rupert berth
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 20, 2006

B.C. Ferries is modifying its docking facilities in Prince Rupert in anticipation of the arrival of the new vessel, the Northern Adventure.

The replacement vessel for the Queen of the North, previously known as the MV Sonia, is wider than its predecessor, so B.C. Ferries is spending $1 million in Prince Rupert to modify its facilities.

“We are demolishing one of the marine dolphins and installing a new one in a different position. This is being done to accommodate the greater width of the Sonia,” said Deborah Marshall, director of media relations for B.C. Ferries.

“In addition, modifications are being made to the Sonia to fit the floating pontoon at the berth. These modifications are to install a ‘dovetail’ on the stern that will fit between the wing walls on the pontoon. Work is expected to be complete by mid February and cost approximately $1 million.”

The same modifications will be made in Skidegate, Port Hardy and at McLoughlin Bay. This work will not affect the in-service date of the ship, which is expected to be operating some time in April 2007.

“The docks will be ready before the ship is finished its upgrade,” she said.

In the meantime, Marshall said B.C. Ferries chose not to name the new vessel after Hartley Bay, the home of many people who helped in the rescue after the Queen of the North sank March 22, because the company wants to attract more tourists to the region.

“After much consideration, B.C. Ferries has decided its northern new vessels will bear the new Northern family name in recognition of the uniqueness and pride of the northern communities they serve,” she said.

“These names capture the essence of the North Coast and the sense of adventure and exploration that comes from travelling throughout B.C.”

She explained that the northern routes currently lose money.

“What we want to do is try to attract more tourists to the route with the new ships to experience the beauty of the region.

“We felt that we will be better able to do that with a family of names for the ships,” she said.

The replacement for the Queen of Prince Rupert, which is being built in Germany and expected to be on-line by 2009, will be named the Northern Expedition.

“We are grateful for the significant contributions made by all the mariners, including Hartley Bay, Kitkatla, the Coast Guard and fishermen in the area, who assisted our crew in the rescue effort after the loss of the Queen of the North,” said Marshall.

“To express our appreciation to the residents of Hartley Bay, we are investing approximately $150,000 in the community by donating a rescue boat, constructing a new gangway and building a new park and playground.”

She added a plaque will also be erected at Hartley Bay in recognition of the residents’ heroic actions that night and to remember the two people who lost their lives.

In response to concerns from North Coast MLA Gary Coons about a lack of public input, Marshall said they did involve some of their employees and their advertising agency. They also spoke with some members of the ferry advisory committee.

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