Canadian operator BC Ferries has christened the first Salish-class vessel as Salish Orca at Remontowa Shipbuilding in Gdansk, Poland.
The new ferry has been named in honour of the Coast Salish people and the Salish Sea, where the ship will operate.
The dual-fuel ship will be capable of running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) or ultra-low sulphur diesel, reducing emissions and operational costs.
According to the company, the use of LNG will result in the reduction of an estimated 9,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to taking 1,900 passenger vehicles off the road annually.
Upon entering services in late 2016, Salish Orca will replace the 50-year-old Queen of Burnaby on the Comox-Powell River route.
BC Ferries president and CEO Mike Corrigan said: “This marks a major milestone in building our new ships, as we honour maritime tradition with the official naming ceremony for the Salish Orca.
“As we progress with our vessel replacement programme, we will continue to look for opportunities to build LNG-powered ferries, while maintaining our high-standard of safety and reliability, as well as reducing our environmental footprint.”
Currently, three Salish-class ships are under construction, including Salish Eagle and Salish Raven that will replace vessels that are at the end of their life cycle.
The Salish Eagle will replace the 51-year old Queen of Nanaimo on the Tsawwassen-Southern Gulf Islands route whereas the Salish Raven will service the Southern Gulf Islands.
The ships are expected to enter service in 2017.
The ships have been built as part of a contract with Province of British Columbia that requires BC Ferries to provide safe and efficient ferry service along coastal British Columbia.