Fast ferries making waves again

Thanks JK for bringing up this topic on a previous post. I have been dragging ass lately, even though this topic has been making waves and rumours for quite some time in the local engineering community, which of course has a fair share of our peers from BC Ferries. My good friend sent me the article below, published recently in the local paper. Some interesting comments from various sources I say! This could be a very interesting year on the local waters.

I see the article mentions a downtown terminal inVancouver. I hadn't heard about that, but did hear that the Nanaimo end was planned to be at Duke Point. The rumours go on to say that the engines will be pulled and taken back by Penske (MTU) with some more economical (read - less powerfull) engines. I am familiar with the person they are talking about in the article below, he was Chief on the Fast Cat in the ship yard and sea trials, I dont know about why they din't mention his name, so I wont either. Interesting, but unsurprising to see the Union leader in stereotypical fashion comment on the Liberal government flacid performance, even though the Union's poster boy, Glen Clark and the NDP, along with the local media, are to blame for the disaster that was the Pacificat Project.

I like the attitude that Seaspan has, and both the Union and BC Ferries will have to put priorities where they are due, where I understand, have been ignored for a long time. Licensed Officers, it would seem, are turning into some of the people ultimately yeilding alot of power, and not just measured in megawatts.


Ferry staff recruitment rumours rejected
Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist
Published: Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The head of Washington Marine Group on Monday deniedweekend reports that his company is recruiting B.C.Ferries workers to staff the FastCat ferries.Chief executive officer Steve Frasher confirmed in atelephone interview that a former B.C. Ferries chiefengineer was hired at Vancouver Shipyard as a mechanical superintendent.

The engineer was not recruited, but responded to anewspaper advertisement about the position, saidFrasher. He denied allegations by B.C. Ferries and Marine Workers' Union president Jackie Miller that his company is actively recruiting ferry staff to work on a new passenger service between Duke Point and Vancouver harbour. Washington Marine Group wants to set up the FastCat ferries to compete with B.C. Ferries and Harbour Lynx.

Frasher said no hiring of ferry workers will be done before consultants have looked at the scheme and offered their opinions. And when Washington Marine Group does hire, it will do so openly. "We don't use blind ads -- we're proud of our name," he said. A crew of 13 would be needed for each vessel's crew and two crews will be required each day, he said. In total, "well over 150" ferry staff could be hired, he said.

"When we're ready to go ahead ... we'll make an announcement and tell everybody what we're doing."While the FastCat idea has been in the works for months, Frasher said he didn't want to make it public too early. "My concern about getting the word out ahead of time is we may just sell the vessels and would I hate to set up these expectations.

"Miller said the senior chief engineer, whose name has not been released, was with the Queen of Cowichan before being hired by Washington Marine Group two months ago. The FastCat owners offered the chief engineer " a significant increase in compensation," she said. The lure of jumping ship to the FastCats is understandable when you look at B.C. Ferries' aging fleet and the amount of overtime employees are accruing, she added. "They're working flat out and many, quite frankly, are getting fed up.

"There's a growing shortage of chief engineers and deckofficers in Canada and worldwide, she said. A chief engineer at B.C. Ferries gets paid $100,000 while offshore counterparts might get $140,000 to $160,000, she said. But the benefit of going home every night and being able to bank overtime makes ferries an attractive place to work.

Miller said the union takes the revival of the FastCatferries seriously. "It's not a joke to us, and nobody in the public is laughing right now except at the Liberal governmentfor selling them for a song. "Washington Marine Group bought the ferries for $20million at auction in 2003. They cost $454 million tobuild.