Queen of Coquitlam
Official No: 0370060
Place Built: N. Vancouver, BC
Builder: Burrard Drydock
Year Built: 1976
Year Rebuilt: 2003
Overall Length: 139.3 m
Length: 133 m
Breadth: 27.08 m
Gross Tons: 6551.18
Service Speed: 22 knots
The Queen of Coquitlam is the first of five C-class ferries built for BC Ferries between 1976 and 1981. In recent years she has primarily operated on the Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) - Departure Bay (Nanaimo) route alongside her sister ship the (Queen of Cowichan. With all the C-class ships running though, she is the most likely to be the "spare" C-class ferry. The Queen of Alberni, Queen of Oak Bay, and Queen of Surrey are the other there sister C-class ships although there are several obvious differences in their superstructures.
Today It can be hard to predict where the Queen of Coquitlam is operating at any given time but if she is being used she'll be on one of three routes: Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay, Horseshoe Bay - Langdale, or Tsawwassen - Duke Point. Primarily, she is the extra vessel for the Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay route. Like the other C-class ships, the Coquitlam boasts many amenities on board and lots of room to wander around. There are two large lounges at either end of the main passenger deck, a large cafeteria, a snack bar, a gift shop, an arcade room, a play area, study desks, and a number of washrooms. There is elevator access to all vehicle and passenger decks making it fully wheelchair accessible. On the upper, mainly outside, passenger deck (sun deck) one can completely walk-around the vessel or sit in one of two large open, covered seating areas behind the bridge at each end. There are also outdoor viewing areas on the main passenger deck at both ends.
The Queen of Coquitlam can hold up to 362 vehicles. The main vehicle deck is divided into three sections. The center section can accommodate a number of over-height vehicles. The sections on either side include an additional "gallery" deck to accommodate extra under-height vehicles. The upper car deck can only handle under-height vehicles.
The Queen of Coquitlam is a double-ended ferry. That means that she has two bridges (one at each end) and can be operated in either direction at service speed. This allows the ferry to both sail in and sail out of a berth without having to turn around. There is a propeller at both ends of the ship, and each propeller can be powered by either one or both of the 5,930 hp diesel engines.
The evacuation system on the Queen of Coquitlam is the same as on the Queen of Cowichan and has a total evacuation capacity of 1,720 people. It consists of 2 evacuation stations on either side of the main passenger deck. At each station there are two chutes that lead into life rafts at water level. There are also two rescue boats located on the sun deck, one at either end near the bridge.
Built in 1976, the Queen of Coquitlam was the first of three C-class ferries launched that year. The ferry cost approximately $20 million to construct and was advertised as "almost double the capacity of the largest ferries presently in service." The Coquitlam was placed on the Horseshoe Bay - Departure Bay route.
BC Ferries used a federal tax loophole to save millions of dollars in the building of the first C-class ferries, which also resulted in the Canadian Government changing their tax laws. As a crown corporation (government owned), BC Ferries could not claim depreciation of the ferries as a deduction on income tax.
To get around this, BC Ferries sold the Queen of Coquitlam, Queen of Cowichan, and Queen of Alberni to investors who were able to write off the depreciation of the ships. Meanwhile, BC Ferries leased back the vessels over a 17 year period, saving the government about $20 million in total. The federal government quickly changed the tax laws to prevent such a transaction from happening again (Bannerman, 116).
On October 19, 1980, the Queen of Coquitlam was involved in, what was up to that time, BC Ferries "most expensive accident" (Bannerman, 111). Ironically, the ferry was not even in the water when it took place. A support collapsed under the ferry while she was in dry dock at Burrard Shipyards in North Vancouver. The Queen of Coquitlam crashed to one side resulting in damage to the ferry and the dry dock. For a while, some thought the ferry might tip over. Parts of the dry dock and ferry were flooded and a small fire was started as a result of the accident. The total cost of the accident was put at about $3 million.
An odd incident involving the Queen of Coquitlam occurred on March 17, 1995, when the driver of a car on the 0800 sailing from Tsawwassen to Departure Bay went missing. For three hours, helicopters and the Coast Guard hovercraft and boat searched the path of the ferry's sailing for the man in the fear he had fallen off the ferry. The elderly man was eventually located at Tsawwassen terminal. Apparently he had driven onto the ferry, then walked off and started looking for his car in the terminal.
An accident on October 20, 1995, took the Queen of Coquitlam out of service for a few days, although no one was hurt. The ferry was approaching the Horseshoe Bay terminal from Langdale when the engine failed because of a faulty air hose. The ferry crashed into one of the pilings at the entrance to her berth at the terminal causing minor damage to both the ferry and the dock. Tugboats were called to turn the ferry around so passengers and cars could disembark, since the front end of the ferry was damaged. Service to the Sunshine Coast was disrupted for 6.5 hours until the Queen of Vancouver arrived to take over. The Queen of Coquitlam was drydocked for emergency repairs.
On January 5, 1996, the Queen of Coquitlam was called to stand by the tugboat Noble Venture, which was taking on water north of Galiano Island. The ferry was first to the scene and stayed for about 30 minutes until the Coast Guard arrived.
The Queen of Coquitlam was used as a viewing stage for the sinking of a World War II "Victory Ship" near Snake Island off Nanaimo on Saturday, October 20, 2001. The ferry was filled with people wanting to watch the HMCS Cape Breton be sunk by the Nanaimo Dive Association for use as an artificial reef.
On June 24, 2003, the Queen of Coquitlam returned from a major, $18 million refit. She was the first C-class ferry to undergo this refurbishment; the others would follow in the coming years. The refit was done by the Washington Marine Group at their dry dock in North Vancouver (Vancouver Shipyards). The ferry was completely repainted (in the new colors), had major steel replacement done, and a new evacuation system (chutes) installed. In addition, passenger amenities were also improved: new furnishings, new decor, new layout, a larger gift shop, and an expanded menu. In the following months, the ferry was plauged by mechanical problems and capacity problems relating to the new evacuation system.
The crew on the Queen of Coquitlam assisted in the rescue of a small boat with 6 people and a dog on board during the evening of August 31, 2003. The occupants of the boat in trouble let off a flare which was spotted by the ferry's crew. They in turn notified Canadian Coast Guard who quickly arrived on the scene.
The newly refurbished Queen of Coquitlam made the news in mid-September, 2003, after a British report was published following an investigation into the safety of marine evacuation chutes similar to those on the ferry. A woman had died using a chute in the United Kingdom during an emergency drill. The report found that the chutes were safe for everyone except the elderly, infants, and the disabled. Transport Canada responded by slapping a restriction on the number of small children and physically disabled people the Queen of Coquitlam could carry. Since the only other option on the ferry were the two rescue boats, the number of these special passengers the ferry was allowed to carry per trip was cut to 10. This resulted in waits for some people, which led to media coverage on the situation. In early October, additional life rafts were added to the ferry to settle the matter.
Two round trips were cancelled on the Queen of Coquitlam on October 22, 2003 because of heavy debris in Howe Sound. Heavy rain and local flooding carried materials into the ocean, and apparently pine needles were the main culprit as they clogged the strainers on the water intakes for cooling the ferry's engines.
The Coast Guard called the Queen of Coquitlam to assist a pleasure craft experiencing trouble in heavy winds and seas in the middle of Georgia Strait on November 14, 2004. The ferry was about 40 minutes into the crossing from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay when the call came. The ferry was the first on the scene and acted as a wind block for about 20 minutes until the Coast Guard arrived.
The crew from the Queen of Coquitlam pulled a man from the water who had fallen or jumped off the ferry on November 29, 2005. The incident happened about 10 minutes after the ferry left Langdale for Horseshoe Bay. Unfortunately the man ultimately died from the ordeal.
Origin of Name Queen of Coquitlam - Named after the city of Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver. Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam are located east of Burnaby and north of both the Fraser River and Pitt River. Incorporated in 1891, the city grew up around a large mill on the banks of the Fraser River. It grew as a suburb following the completion of the Lougheed Highway in 1953, linking it directly to Burnaby and Vancouver. Today, with a population of over 100,000 (about twice that of Port Coquitlam), Coquitlam is the 6th largest city in British Columbia. ("Coquitlam" - Encyclopedia of British Columbia).
For Further Reading
Bannerman, Gary and Patricia. The Ships of British Columbia. Surrey: Hancock House Publishers, 1985.