The Northern Sea Wolf features exterior art work by artist Richard Hunt. (File photo)

New ferry to B.C.’s central coast sets sail, a year late and $20M over budget

Northern Sea Wolf will cost $76 million when it hits the waters in June

The ferry expected to bring a direct route between northern Vancouver Island and the central B.C. coast is coming a year late and $20 million over budget.

In an email sent by BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall Tuesday, she said the Northern Sea Wolf was originally supposed to operate in June 2018, but will now start later this summer.

The ferry will also cost $76 million by the time it gets into the water, instead of the $55.7 million initially budgeted.

It will take over the another central coast route from the Nimpkish, a 46-year-old ferry that can hold 12 cars and 95 people. It will begin its planned seasonal direct route from Port Hardy to Bella Coola on June 3.

READ MORE: BC Ferries reveals Northern Sea Wolf artwork

The 77-metre Northern Sea Wolf was originally built in Greece in 2000, then bought by BC Ferries for $12.6 million in 2017.

At the time, it was thought to cost $55.7 million to both buy and retrofit the vessel.

However, Marshall said “major upgrade work to bring the vessel up to BC Ferries and Transport Canada’s standards took longer than originally anticipated,” and boosted up the cost to a total of $63.4 million for retrofit work.

Add in the initial $12.6 million cost to buy the ferry, and it will now cost the company $76 million by the time the Northern Sea Wolf begins running from Port Hardy to Bella Coola.

The vessel will carry up to 35 vehicles and 150 passengers and has spent May conducting dock trials in the communities it will serve.

The increased costs are attributed to a new galley, bridge, electrical generators, HVAC system, washrooms, elevator, chair lifts, new cafeteria and passenger accommodation area.

“In many aspects the vessel is totally new,” Marshall said.

The federal government has contributed $15.1 million in funding, leaving the company with a $60.9 million price tag.

READ MORE: ‘Huge disappointment’ as Northern Sea Wolf will not sail summer 2018


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