General News · 4th April 2022
FAC ‘Fast Facts’
BC Ferries Delays in Island Class Deployment
As experienced throughout the fall and winter of 2021/22, the impact of crew shortages at BC Ferries is expected to continue through the spring and into summer. These shortages are affecting plans to deploy two Island Class vessels on to Route 23. Below are some quick facts that may help FAC members address questions and concerns coming from the community.
Length of delay
BC Ferries is anticipating that two Island Class vessels will enter service on Route 23 this fall.
Causes of delay
Crewing challenges are having an impact on BC Ferries’ ability to introduce two-ship service on to Route 23 because they have not been able to find enough crew for the required positions on both vessels just yet. They are actively recruiting to fill the vacancies.
The crewing shortages are a result of several factors including:
- Higher than expected retirements in key shipboard positions
- The impact of vaccination policies
- Difficulties recruiting international candidates due to COVID-19
- The 25-year global shortage of professional mariners
These staffing challenges are not unique to BC Ferries. Marine transportation industries around the world are experiencing similar challenges and disruptions, e.g. BC’s interior ferries, Washington State Ferries, New Zealand ferries.
The crewing process
- Crewing is a complex, logistical task that considers the individual’s qualifications and the number of skilled mariners required for the various roles onboard each vessel, as well as where the mariners live and work Regulations require these positions to be filled with the appropriate crew, or the vessel cannot sail: o Large vessels require 30 to 50 crew on each shift, with two shifts daily o Smaller vessels like those on the minor, inter-Island routes can require five to 10 crew, also in shifts Even a small number of crew that are unavailable to sail can have a significant impact on service if replacements are challenging to find
What is being done to address crew shortages
- BC Ferries’ crewing team has been looking at relocation, retraining, and hiring options to fill the necessary rolesThe crewing team continues to work hard on filling the gaps, and are making every effort to bring two-ship service onto the route as quickly as possible
- BC Ferries is advancing several initiatives to address the shortages including:
o Investing in internal training and advancement
o Implementing a significant push on recruitment (this has been going on for several months now)
o Bringing back retired employees where possible
- The operations team has been meeting weekly for several months to collaborate and explore solutions for getting two-ship service on to the route as soon as possible, and they will continue to do so moving forward.
- This is a very dynamic situation and BC Ferries will keep the community posted as plans are solidified.