NEWS RELEASE September 22, 2005
BC SHIPYARD GENERAL WORKERS' FEDERATION
BC Ferries is years behind schedule needed for new ships, says BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation after $50 million Bowen Island ferry contract awarded three years late; service disruptions will increase as fleet ages
Three new North Coast ferries needed now but BC Ferries not letting bids till 2007
VANCOUVER – BC Ferries is years behind the construction schedule needed for new ships for its fleet, says the BC Shipyard General Workers' Federation, and the result will be increasing service disruptions like those experienced this past year, when 112 sailings were cancelled.
Federation president George MacPherson points to this week's awarding of a new $50 million 125-car intermediate size ferry a full three years after the ship was originally supposed to be under construction. The new ship will be built in British Columbia by Vancouver Shipyards and will not be in service until late 2007 or 2008.
And the Federation says BC Ferries should already be tendering a major $500 million bid to build three new North Coast ferries instead of delaying the tender until 2007.
“BC Ferries is years behind schedule in building replacements for a very rapidly aging ferry fleet and if they don't pick up the pace, we will see more and more service disruptions as these ships break down again and again,” says MacPherson, noting that BC Ferries needs to replace 22 ships over the next 15 years.
The Federation is very pleased that Vancouver Shipyards has won the bid to build the replacement for the 45-year-old Queen of Tsawwassen here in B.C., MacPherson said, but frustrated that the bid was not awarded back in 2002 when it was first issued.
“This replacement ferry could have already been launched and in service for a year or more if BC Ferries had not dithered and cancelled two separate tenders,” MacPherson said.
MacPherson said he is worried that much-needed replacements for the three North Coast ferries will be further delayed after BC Ferries CEO David Hahn said Monday that the tenders may not be issued until 2007, meaning construction of the ships would not be completed for many years.
“The Queen of Prince Rupert was built almost 40 years ago, in 1966, and the Queen of the North in 1969 – these ships have pretty much reached the end of their useful service life but there are no replacement vessels yet being built or even tendered,” MacPherson said. “BC Ferries needs to get to work immediately in commissioning three new ferries.”
MacPherson said the Federation will continue to press BC Ferries and the provincial government to build new ferries in British Columbia , not in foreign countries. Three new Super-C class ferries worth $542 million are being built in Germany.
For more information : Call George MacPherson at 604-254-8204 or cell 604-220-3291 or Bill Tieleman, West Star Communications, at 604-844-7827 or cell 778-896-0964. For background, go to www.bcshipyardworkers.com