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Ferry's engine failure results in spate of cancellations

Jan 14 2012

B.C. Ferries cancelled eight sailings on major routes between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island Friday after a mechanical failure the previous day.

The 31-year-old Queen of Oak Bay had engine trouble while travelling between Nanaimo and the Mainland on the 5 p.m. sailing from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay Thursday. Passengers reported seeing smoke, but B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said there was no fire.

"We had a mechanical failure of one of the ship's two main engines, so that has put that vessel out of service," Marshall said. She denied media reports that the ship had a hard landing.

"There were no injuries. There was smoke emanating from a clutch, but there was no fire. The captain did muster the fire party out of an abundance of caution." she said.

As a result of the incident, two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo were cancelled — the 6:30 a.m., departing Horseshoe Bay, and the 8:30 a.m. leaving Departure Bay.

B.C. Ferries moved a ship from the Tsawwassen/

Departure Bay route up to Horseshoe Bay to replace the Queen of Oak Bay, which caused other cancellations, Marshall said.

Cancellations between Vancouver (Tsawwassen) and Nanaimo (Departure Bay) included the 7:45 a.m. departing Tsawwassen and the 10:15 a.m. leaving Departure Bay. B.C. Ferries moved the Coastal Renaissance off the Tsawwassen/

Swartz Bay run, putting it in place of the Coquitlam on the Tsawwassen/Departure Bay run.

"What that means is we've had to cancel the extra sailings we normally would have had on a Friday afternoon between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay," Marshall said,

Those sailings were the

2 p.m. and the 6 p.m. sailings from Tsawwassen and the 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. departing Swartz Bay.

The incident will exacerbate delays as the Duke Point terminal remains closed after it was damaged in a hard landing last month. All Nanaimo sailings are leaving Departure Bay until further notice.

The Queen of Oak Bay lost its manoeuvring ability on approach to Horseshoe Bay in June 2005, ramming through several wharves at a nearby marina and damaging more than two dozen boats. Meanwhile, the provincial Ministry of Transportation said Friday it is premature to consider service cuts to B.C. Ferries, given the service review now underway.

An application by B.C. Ferries to cut as many as 400 round-trip sailings from its schedule to cope with growing losses was announced last fall by former ferries CEO David Hahn. He said the company would ask the provincial government if it could cancel those trips on the major routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

Some media reported Friday that the service cuts had been rejected by Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom. But the ministry said the service reduction proposed by B.C. Ferries has not been approved or rejected because it was premature to consider the proposal before B.C. Ferry Commissioner Gord Macatee completes his review.

Macatee's review of the Coastal Ferry Act, addressing concerns about the affordability and sustainability of ferry services, is to be delivered to the province this month.

Service levels may be discussed in light of that report, the ministry says.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

For traffic updates or more information please call us toll free at 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779), check our website at www.bcferries.com or go to mobile.bcferries.com on your mobile device.

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