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Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards has secured a $15m contract from BC Ferries for the construction of a new cable ferry.

The 78.5m vessel will be a roll-on/roll-off cable ferry and will be designed to accommodate 50 vehicles and 150 passengers.

After construction, crew training and familiarisation, the cable ferry will be put into service on the Buckley Bay to Denman Island route in summer 2015.

The cable ferry’s fuel, labour and maintenance costs will be relatively low, when compared to a conventional ferry.

Additionally, the ferry will offer environmental benefits such as reduced fuel consumption, lower air emissions, reduced wake, no propeller turbulence, low anti-fouling discharge, low propeller scour and zero discharge to the marine environment.

The ferry’s design phase went on for ten months before a request for proposal (RFP) was issued in September 2013 that selected three shipyards for the construction, including two in Vancouver and one in Seattle.

BC Ferries Engineering vice-president Mark Wilson said BC Ferries followed a rigorous, world-wide competitive tendering process for the new cable ferry to ensure they receive a high-quality vessel at a competitive price.

"We are pleased that Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards is the successful bidder and the ship will be built here in British Columbia," Wilson said.

"The cable ferry provides substantial cost savings of over $80 million over the 40-year life of the project compared to the current service, and these significant cost savings of $2 million per year will help reduce pressure on future fare increases across the coastal ferry system."

BC Ferry will soon award the contract for the new terminal infrastructure that will accommodate the cable ferry system.

Image: The contract signing ceremony with (left to right) Seaspan Shipyards president Brian Carter, BC Ferries Engineering vice-president Mark Wilson and Seapan CEO Jonathan Whitworth. Photo: courtesy of British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.