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BC Ferries pulling another major vessel from service after cracks discovered on hull

One of BC Ferries' largest vessels is being pulled from service in the coming weeks to undergo repairs, according to the ferry workers' union.

The Spirit of Vancouver Island, which provides several daily trips between Tsawwassen and Victoria, will be dry docked after the Thanksgiving weekend, according to the BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union.

Union president Eric McNeely said "unexpected" issues have emerged that require "engineering support to make sure (the vessel) can run through the winter."

The repairs are expected to impact multiple routes between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, including those servicing the Sunshine Coast, McNeely added.

During a news conference Thursday afternoon, BC Ferries executives said cracks were discovered in the vessel’s hull, which have been fixed by divers.

However, the quality of underwater welding is not as high as repairs that can be performed on a dry dock, according to BC Ferries’ technology services director Steve Harris.

“We’ve got an opportunity with a dry dock opening in October, so we’re taking advantage of that to do some more immediate repairs,” said Harris.

Officials also faced questions about the Coastal Renaissance, which has been out of service for repairs since mid-August.

One of the motors is the source of the issues, and Harris says its rotor needs to be replaced and the stator is being repaired. He estimates the fixes will cost around $3 million.

McNeely said workers have seen growing frustration among passengers over ferry delays and cancellations, and "experience it (themselves) when they go to travel."

"The service has become a bit unreliable," he added. "It is becoming a different style of ferry service than British Columbians are used to."

BC Ferries’ executives acknowledged the service is experiencing a rise in staffing-related cancellations during Thursday’s update, but says 99.3 per cent of sailing have gone ahead as planned over the last month. Top Stories

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