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.”

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As part of Earth Week, Ucluelet Rotary Club member Ryan Wackett will be handing out free Clean Up Packages with grabber picker up tools at his shop Westcoast Connect from April 10 to 23. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet Rotary honours Earth Day with week long community clean up

“Let’s spring into action and clean up our beautiful communities!”

Hwy. 4 was shut down in both directions for 10 hours on March 23 as a rock bluff was blasted as part of Kennedy Hill’s ongoing construction. Commuters can expect five more 10 hour closures on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning April 28. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Five 10-hour closures coming to Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Closures needed for rock blasting as part of the Kennedy Hill Safety Improvement project.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
WATCH: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song and performance

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Ucluelet locals Rachael, Caroline and Tom enjoy refreshments on a sunny Monday afternoon at a picnic table dining area set up by the District of Ucluelet to help residents and visitors support local businesses while staying outside. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Ucluelet chamber launches bingo contest to support local restaurants

Four Ucluelet Co-op shopping sprees are up for grabs in #Ukee2go competition.

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read