Builders maintain super ships should have been built here
jeff hodson/metro vancouver
The first of B.C. Ferries new Super C-class vessels, the Coastal Renaissance, passed under Lions Gate Bridge yesterday at the end of its almost 10,000-nautical-mile journey from Germany.
It was a voyage that shouldn’t have taken place, local shipbuilders said, because the vessel should have been built here.
Sounding its horn, the ferry turned in a slow circle in Vancouver harbour, giving spectators, who braved the rain and snow, a view from Lonsdale Quay and Canada Place.
The vessel, the first of three, is the largest double-ended ferry in the world. At 160 metres, the Coastal Renaissance is about 20 metres longer — and will carry almost 200 more passengers — than B.C. Ferries’ C-class vessels.
"While it’s a very rainy gloomy day, it’s a very bright day for the future of B.C. Ferries," said David Hahn, president and CEO of B.C. Ferries.
The Coastal Renaissance and its sisters were constructed at a cost of approximately $325 million at Germany’s Flensburger shipyard.
Earlier yesterday, George MacPherson, president of B.C. Shipyard General Workers Federation, said B.C. shipbuilders were shut out of the bid process.
"Is it a beautiful vessel? Absolutely," MacPherson said.
"Is it something that we couldn’t have done here? Absolutely not."
He estimates that 5,000 direct and indirect jobs were lost by building in Germany.
Hahn, however, said B.C. should stick to building small vessels and ship repair.
It is expected to cost B.C. Ferries $82-million to import the vessels, a tariff that Hahn is asking the federal government to waive.
MacPherson said the money should be used to build B.C.’s shipbuilding capacity.