BC Ferries is pulling the Northern Adventure out of service for 10 days to fix what it describes as “some issues” before the summer season begins.
The move comes just five weeks after the new ship started serving the northern routes April 1.
The Northern Adventure will be going to the Deas Pacific Marine facility in Richmond from May 9 to 19, and returning to service on May 20.
“We do have to make some modifications,” said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “And we wanted to get this done before the summer season.”
Top of the list for the fixes are the elevator and escalator, which haven’t worked since the ferry started serving the routes and which are crucial for wheelchair-using passengers.
Ms Marshall said Ferries will also be improving the drainage holes on the outer deck, which have not been working properly. The ship was designed for the Mediterranean and not the much wetter north coast, she explained.
Workers will also fix the plumbing in some of the washrooms, and the outer ventilation covers, she said.
Ms Marshall said the refit was not required by any authority and is being done completely voluntarily by BC Ferries.
Ferries decided that right now is a good time because the Queen of Prince Rupert is finished its annual refit and available to replace the Northern Adventure, and the busy tourist season hasn’t started yet.
When the Northern Adventure returns to service, it will be working only on the Inside Passage route. The Skidegate-Rupert route will continue to be served by the QPR.
There will be one schedule change for our route, with the Tuesday morning May 8 sailing switching to Wednesday night May 9, Ms Marshall said.
North Coast MLA Gary Coons, the NDP ferry critic, said the announcement is a “major embarrassment” for BC Ferries and that the problems aboard the Northern Adventure are serious safety concerns.
Mr. Coons said it’s hard to understand why a ship which was just bought and completely renovated at a cost of $100-million already needs repairs.
“The ship has apparently experienced problems with its electrical systems, its alarm systems aren’t working properly, the public address system has experienced failures, and fire equipment and life raft systems still need work,” he said.
“This is a serious blunder that could have serious ramifications for coast residents who depend on their marine highway system,” he said.
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