Official No: 0819521
Place Built: Vancouver, BC
Builder: Allied Shipbuilders
Year Built: 1996
Length: 110.0 m
Breadth: 23.45 m
Gross Tons: 2,453.0
Service Speed: 18 knots
The Skeena Queen is a Century Class ferry operated by BC Ferries between Swartz Bay and Fulford Harbour on Salt Spring Island. This busy route carries tourists to the Gulf Island as well as commuters to and from Victoria. The Skeena Queen is the last Queen of the fleet. When she was constructed, the government at the time promised that two more identical ships would follow as part of a "10 Year Plan"; they never did. Since she was built for high-volume short trips, she has very limited passenger amenities on board. There are four small seating areas, washrooms, and vending machines. There is also some open deck access to the area above the passenger seating areas for passengers to sit down and enjoy the passing scenery.
The Skeena Queen was designed by McLaren and Sons of North Vancouver and built by Allied Shipbuilders. The final construction cost of the vessel was $21 million dollars. At the time, the ferry was praised for its very efficient hull design and environmentally friendly sewage treatment plant When completed, the Skeena Queen entered service on the Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbour route, replacing the smaller Bowen Queen.
In the first years of service, the ferry's original four Mitsubishi diesel engines were plagued by problems, resulting in severe vibration, slower operating speed, and cancelled sailings. One of these enginea (hand-picked by BC Ferries, not the builder) had to be replaced after just one year of use. In early 2000, BC Ferries took the Queen out of service for several months and replace all 4 engines at a cost of $2.5 million.
In April 2001, leaks and cracks were discovered in 3 engines and the ferry had to be taken out of service for a month for repairs. For the month of October of the same year, the Skeena Queen was again drydocked for repairs on all 4 engines. In 2002, the ferry's high-speed engines were finally replaced with different medium-speed engines at no cost to BC Ferries. Since then there have been relatively few operational problems.
1997 - January - BC Ferries new Century-class vessel is launched from Allied Shipbuilders.
1997 - April 5 - The Skeena Queen is named and commissioned.
1999 - March - One engine was replaced.
2000 - January - While heading to Vancouver to get one engine repaired, the Skeena Queen suffered engine failure on two additional engines, had to be towed to dock. All four engines were subsequently replaced.
2001 - April - The Skeena Queen was removed from service for repairs to 3 engines.
2001 - October - The ferry was out for the month as one engine was rebuilt and the other 3 repaired.
2002 - April - Mitsubishi replaced all 4 of the Skeena Queen's high-speed engines with new medium-speed engines.
Origin of Name Skeena Queen - Named after the Skeena River located in north central British Columbia. It is the second longest river in the province. Its source is in the northern part of the province near the Spatsizi Plateau. It flows south and then west to the ocean, emptying into Hecate Strait, just south of the city of Prince Rupert. The Skeena River is an important river in British Columbia's history. The Tsimshian and Gitksan have called the region home for centuries. It was and is an important salmon bearing river and was home to numerous canneries in the late 19th century. From paddlewheel boats taking prospectors upriver to gold rushes to the modern day Yellowhead Highway and CN Rail line, the river provides a way from the coast into the interior of the province. The name may come from the Tsimshian word "K-Shian" for "water of the clouds." ("Skeena River" - Encyclopedia of British Columbia)
For Further Reading
ship-technology.com - Skeena Queen - Vehicle and Passenger Ferry - A webpage with images and technical specifications of the vessel.