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Pushing 50, ferry nears end of service

Nov 16 2012

The ferry that bears the Harbour City's name is nearing retirement after more than 48 years on the water.

The MV Queen of Nanaimo had its inaugural run on June 5, 1964.

The vessel - the seventh built for B.C. Ferries - will be removed from service in approximately four years, the corporation confirmed on Wednesday.

The vessel's age means it will not qualify for a liquefied natural gas retrofit to extend its operating days. It received a $14-million retrofit in 2006, including safety upgrades and the addition of passenger services.

"Once ships are retired from our fleet, they are put up for sale on the open market," said B.C.

Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall. "Logging companies have been known to purchase our old vessels in the past."

The Queen of Nanaimo was constructed for $3.5 million and designed by Phillip Spaulding. She began life operating between the Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay ferry terminals. In 1973, the vessel was "stretched" to increase the number of spaces on the vehicle decks to 192 from 54.

By the mid-1980s, the boat shifted from the busier Nanaimo route to service Tsawwassen-Gulf Islands, where it operates today.

In October 2006, approximately 200 volunteers abandoned ship during a Canadian navy search-and-rescue exercise using the Queen of Nanaimo.

During the summer of 2010, an investigation was launched by B.C. Ferries after the Queen of Nanaimo crashed into a dock on Mayne Island. According to media reports, four passengers and one crew were injured by the impact of the collision.

"We would expect when we retire the Nanaimo, that we will retire her sister ship, the Queen of Burnaby," Marshall said. That vessel currently operates between Comox and Powell River.

Also on the list of possible retirees is the North Island Princess, a 49-car ferry that operates between Powell River and Texada. The Princess was built in 1958.

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