A Google Earth image shows the three fast ferries at anchor in a shipbuilding port in Abu Dhabi, tied up together on the right. They have been relocated to a commercial port in Alexandria, Egypt, according to an online posting by an observer who said they were “covered in dust.”

Fast ferries from B.C. spotted in Egypt

Controversial aluminum BC Ferries vessels ’big white elephants covered in dust,’ eyewitness says

Two of the “fast cat” vessels that nearly bankrupted BC Ferries and led to the downfall of the provincial government that approved them ended up sitting idle in a Egyptian harbour.

The catamarans were spotted tied up at the port of Alexandria earlier this year.

In a July 22 post to the ferriesbc.proboards.com message board, “highlander” said he saw the pair tied up on a “long jetty beside some naval ships,” and it looked like they had been sitting idle for some time.

“They look very neglected and COLD STACKED (mothballed) as we say in the oil industry,” the posting said.

“They just look like two big white elephants covered in dust now.”

Attempts at contacting the port, which was described as a combined military and commercial operation, were not successful.

There had been reports that the catamarans Pacificat Discovery, Pacificat Explorer and the Pacificat Voyager were going to be used to ferry workers and supplies to oil rigs off the Egyptian coast.

However, “highlander,” who works in the oil and gas industry, doubted the ships could remain “on station,” holding position in order to load and offload crews and supplies.

Provincial cabinet documents detailing discussions about the fast cats were released under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) to an unnamed “researcher” and posted on the B.C. government website.

They show that just before the provincial government decided to dock the ferries and put them up for sale, there was a tentative deal to build two more, smaller catamarans for sale to an American corporation to run between Jamestown, New York and Toronto on the Great Lakes.

That would have required more government subsidies, however, and by then, the project was so deeply mired in debt due to cost overruns that the provincial government decided to cut its losses.

The documents show provincial cabinet ministers were told the ‘cats’, which were supposed to replace the conventional “C” class ferries on the Horsehoe Bay – Departure Bay run, were expensive and unreliable.

“The fast ferries have not performed according to original expectations,” a confidential briefing note observed.

“ … the fast ferries have approximately double the fuel and maintenance costs compared to the C-class vessels.”

They could not carry heavy commercial and recreational vehicles, and required an “intensive maintenance schedule” said the report, which put the cost at $19 million a year more than the C-class ferries.

Opportunities to sell the aluminum catamarans to other fast ferry operators were limited by the fact the B.C.-built ships had been designated “sheltered waters vessels,” so they couldn’t be used in many locations such as the English Channel and the Irish sea.

It’s estimated the BC Ferry Corporation lost $400 million on the fast ferries.

The controversy over the cost of the failed fast ferry program is considered to be a factor in the defeat of the NDP government of the day and the election of the Liberals, who eventually sold the three ferries in 2003 to the Washington Marine Group for $19.4 million, less than five per cent of what they cost to build.

In 2009, the three vessels were sold to a luxury yacht builder in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf.

A Google Earth satellite image showed them tied up on the dock, and a promotional photo of a luxury yacht showed the dust-covered ferries in the background.

The new owners reportedly planned to operate them as a regional ferry service, but that didn’t happen.

In 2014, according to a Wikipedia entry for the fast cats, all three ferries were donated by the U.A.E. to the Egyptian government for use in the oil and gas industry.

READ ALSO: BC Ferries wants five new ships



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Province commits to supporting Indigenous tourism growth in B.C.

The Indigenous Tourism Accord signed during conference in Kelowna

UBC Okanagan, RCMP collab for study on reporting child abuse

A fundraising gala will present a UBCO psych student’s reseach on how and when abuse is reported

Rockets’ Novak receives 8-game suspension

Novak was penalized for a checking-from-behind penalty on Nov.11

Kelowna rental rates least expensive among major B.C. cities

The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit in Kelowna is $1,233

Rockets help Team WHL to comeback win at Canada Russia Series

Kelowna skaters helped Team WHL to a 2-1 overtime win in game one of the two game series

B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

North Okanagan mom cherishes life-saving alert dog

Carrie Lemay, single mom and a diabetic, welcomed Freckles, an alert guide dog, into her life

Dream funds serve up dream kitchen for Okanagan organization

CMHA upgrades space thanks to Kalamalka Dream Auction donation

‘It’s been 12 years’: Father of murdered B.C. real estate agent pleads for mayor’s help

Lindsay Buziak was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008 in Saanich. Her case is unsolved.

Penticton’s OSNS benefits from $10,000 RBC grant

The OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre will use the money for tech upgrades

Radon levels in new Salmon Arm home a concern

Real-time monitoring shows radon concentration just within federally accepted guideline

B.C. First Nation Chief Ed John faces historic sex charges

John served as minister for children and families under then-premier Ujjah Dosanjh

Vernon councillor suggests homeless set up camp at city hall

Overnight camping in city parks is only permitted between dusk and 9 a.m. in specific parks

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Most Read