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BC Ferries' fuel records show how much new vessels guzzle

The new Super C-class vessels were supposed to save B.C. Ferries fuel, but internal company documents show they burn much more of the expensive stuff than do older vessels of a similar size.

To make proper comparisons between vessels, recent media reports quoted president and CEO David Hahn saying, one would have to look at a ship's performance over a full day of service. The Tyee requested that information from a company spokesperson, but got no response.

We did, however, get an internal B.C. Ferries fuel consumption chart through a different source. It shows why the new German-built vessels will be strategically kept at the dock if the company is serious about saving fuel.

The chart for June 2008 shows the Coastal Renaissance was used on the route between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay. To make the round trip, which it did 94 times, on average it used 8,416 litres of fuel.

The other ships used on that route each used significantly less fuel: Queen of Coquitlam (6,891 litres), the Queen of Cowichan (7,050 litres) and the Queen of Oak Bay (6,491 litres).

While the Coastal Renaissance carries 370 vehicles and 1,600 people, each of the Queens carries 362 vehicles and 1,500 people.

The Coastal Inpiration, with the same capacity as the Renaissance, made 60 round trips between Tsawwassen and Duke Point. On average it burned 9,719 litres of fuel.

Used on the same route, the Queen of Cowichan (362 vehicles, 1,500 passengers) burned 6,378 litres of fuel per round trip. The smaller Queen of Alberni (295 vehicles, 1,200 passengers) used 7,153 litres of fuel.

The third Super C-class vessel, the Coastal Celebration, was put into service November 21 for a few runs between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. It has since been out of service.

B.C. Ferries spent $542 million to buy the three Super C-class ships from the German shipyard Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft. The Tyee reported a week ago the ships have major problems including high fuel consumption, noise and vibrations that have kept the ferry company from putting them into full service.

[This story was corrected at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 26. The Coastal Inspiration was used between Tsawwassen and Duke Point, not Swartz Bay.]

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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