Sun setting on foreign ferries?

An $8 billion federal contract for Coast Guard and navy ships could mean the end of ferries built in foreign shipyards, B.C. government officials say.

Two of BC Ferries' three German-built coastal class ferries at the dock at Swartz Bay.

Two of BC Ferries' three German-built coastal class ferries at the dock at Swartz Bay.

VICTORIA – An $8 billion federal contract for Coast Guard and navy support ships could mean the end of ferries built in foreign shipyards, B.C. government officials say.

Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell said Thursday the upgrades to Seaspan facilities in North Vancouver and Victoria to construct seven new vessels will make the company more competitive, particularly for specialty ships like the icebreaker that is part of the contract.

Both Bell and Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom defended the decision by BC Ferries to contract with a German shipyard for three new large ferries delivered in 2007 and 2008.

Lekstrom said he supported the decision by BC Ferries to use competitive bidding, and suggested there would be a “taxpayer revolt” if the B.C. government put local construction ahead of cost. Bell agreed.

“The incremental cost of having built those other three ferries here would have been enormous, so I think it was the right decision at the time,” Bell said. “The good news is, with the advantages we’re gaining through this contract, that probably won’t happen again.”

Premier Christy Clark noted that smaller ferries have continued to be built in B.C., and the expansion of B.C. shipyard will increase their ability to compete on cost with European or Korean shipyards.

Bell said it’s unlikely that B.C. will go into the competitive market for freighters, but it has a chance to sell expertise in niche markets such as icebreakers abroad.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Nisga’a Lisims Government has extended its state of local emergency. (File photo)
Nisga’a state of local emergency extended, vaccines delayed

There are 21 active COVID-19 cases in the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Terrace continues to have a high rate of COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people, according to this map which shows data from Jan. 3 to Jan. 9. (BC Centre for Disease Control)
Terrace, Nisga’a regions continue to have high rate of COVID-19 cases

Two more exposure notices posted for Terrace schools

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read