Davie becomes the first North American shipyard to build LNG-powered ferry

Sarah Carter
Sarah Carter

19 July 2018


Davie Shipbuilding, Canada’s largest shipyard, announced that it has delivered the first LNG-powered ferry to be built in North America. This pioneering ferry can be powered entirely by LNG, the cleanest fossil fuel known to mankind.

Delivering this prototype has taken years of work by Davie, the designers and the classification society, who have had to develop construction and operations rules and regulations during the construction in order to cater for this new type of propulsion system.

Davie

James Davies, President of Davie commented, “It would have been easy to build a normal, diesel-powered ferry but instead Québec decided to pave the way in setting a new environmental standard for the entire continent. We inherited this project when we acquired the shipyard in 2012. With the project already at a mature concept stage when we arrived, we received a specification from the client of more than four hundred pages long and we immediately set to work on solving the puzzle that had been created."

James added: "One thing is for sure – we couldn’t have done this without Premier Couillard and his government for their cooperation and sheer determination to make Québec a shipbuilding industry leader and a province at the forefront of green marine technologies. While a handful of these new LNG-powered ferries have been built in Europe, they have often been fraught with problems after they entered service. We are very proud to have delivered the highest quality product which has now passed all testing with flying colours and we have done it at an internationally competitive price.”

Alex Vicefield, CEO of Inocea explained, “The combination of an entirely new green technology and a client who hadn’t built new ships in decades created a unique challenge for this project. Having integrated LNG propulsion into this ice-class ferry, we will now be looking at how LNG can power other classes of icebreakers – ships which operate in some of the most sensitive ecosystems on the planet. For ferries, we also want to explore the potential for installing fully electrical propulsion systems."

"In Québec, where we have a surplus of hydroelectric power and with recent advances in ‘wireless’ or induction charging and battery technology, this would make a lot of sense. Being the first mover in any new technology is never going to be cheap, but the potential that these new environmentally-friendly technologies have is enormous. This is what will power the future and we intend for Davie to remain at the forefront of it. We owe Premier Couillard and his government a debt of gratitude for having confidence in us to deliver this program and at the same time develop Davie into a world-class builder of high ice-class vessels and ferries,” Alex added.

Ron Pearson, Davie’s VP of engineering said, “From the outside, this ship looks like any other ferry but from the inside, it is of a similar level of complexity to a space shuttle. It is a densely packed, highly integrated and complex product. This ferry has more systems and automation onboard than an offshore drilling platform or a modern warship. It is truly a technological marvel – the cryogenic processes involved in managing this highly volatile fuel, while also creating a vessel which is safe to carry passengers, has been a huge challenge. Integrating all of these systems into such a confined space was even more challenging and one we are very proud to have overcome.”

Since 2014, Davie has delivered three major vessels, all of which set a new standard for the industries in which they will operate. In 2014, Davie delivered m/v Pride, a subsea construction vessel used to perform works at more than 3,000 meters below the sea surface. It was the most complex commercial vessel ever built in North America. Earlier this year, Davie launched m/v Asterix, the largest naval vessel ever to be delivered from a Canadian shipyard.

Davie is once again proving that it is possible to build highly complex ships in Canada at internationally competitive prices. Its thousands of skilled shipbuilders are well positioned to deliver on a variety of programs, particularly for icebreakers and ferries for Québec, Canada and internationally.