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‘Floatel’ ship anchoring in Nanaimo before becoming workforce housing

MV Isabelle will be in the harbour until spring as it awaits further refit work
B.C. Ferries vessels navigate around luxury passenger vessel MV Isabelle on their routes between downtown Nanaimo and Gabriola Island on Thursday, Feb. 8. The ship is a ‘floatel’ that will be construction workers’ accommodations for Woodfibre LNG’s export facility in Howe Sound. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Cruise-style ships haven’t visited Nanaimo Harbour much of late, but one can be seen anchored off Protection Island for the coming weeks.

According to Capt. Satinder Singh, Port of Nanaimo vice-president of operations and harbour master, Nanaimo Port Authority is supporting the MV Isabelle, a 652-cabin luxury floatel that underwent a refit in Europe in 2023 and will have its refit work finished at Seaspan’s North Vancouver shipyard before it takes on its new purpose as workforce housing.

“Woodfibre LNG has selected MV Isabelle to house its project construction workforce in Howe Sound, beginning spring 2024,” Singh said in an e-mail. “The vessel will offers the latest in safe, secure and sustainable workforce accommodation.”

The ship, described as a roll-on, roll-off passenger vessel that can accommodate vehicles, is owned by Bridgemans, which specializes in floatels and provides floating worker accommodations for industry projects such as wind farms, the film industry, mining and LNG construction projects.

“Woodfibre LNG will be the world’s first net zero LNG export facility, they chose Bridgemans for its commitment to sustainability and ability to deliver turn-key, safe and secure live-work offshore accommodation for more than 600 workers at [the] site,” Singh said.

Nanaimo Port Authority’s NA2 anchorage, where the ship is located in the harbour, was chosen as the ideal location to anchor the craft till April.

“The port is a full-service port with state-of-the-art [maritime domain awareness] system in place to maintain utmost safety, security, and environmental protection, Singh said.

READ ALSO: ‘Floatel’ to house Squamish LNG construction workers sails into B.C. waters

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Use old cruise ship as housing

Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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