A hard landing by B.C. Ferries Coastal Inspiration at Duke Point has left the terminal berth with heavy damage and the vessel with damaged bow doors.
The crash happened at about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday
Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, said five passengers and one crew member received minor injuries from the impact, and that the Duke Point terminal is closed until repairs can be made to the berth.
An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident.
Coastal Inspiration was forced to limp to the Departure Bay terminal to unload its walk-on and vehicle passengers. A tugboat was standing by but was not needed.
Ken and Dianne Riley, travelling from Kelowna, were on the ferry to visit relatives in Ladysmith for Christmas.
Ken said passengers were given a warning over the vessel’s loudspeaker to brace for the expected impact.
“The horn was blowing and we were told to hang on, then boom,” said Ken. “We hit twice. We thought, ‘what the heck just happened?’ We were in our vehicles at the time. It was enough to rock our pickup truck a couple of times.”
He added that passengers he could see reacted calmly and that ferry staff were “very quick” to make sure passengers were OK.
“They were awesome,” he said. “Everybody was told to go to the cafeteria (after the impact) and were provided with coffee and a meal on B.C. Ferries. They kept us informed of what was going on and what to expect.”
Passengers reportedly received refunds for their trip.
Marshall said B.C. Ferries averages 12 hard landings each year out of about 185,000 sailings. The last occurred last month when the Queen of Coquitlam struck the Departure Bay berth. There were no injuries in that incident.
The damaged terminal berth at Duke Point underwent a full structural assessment Wednesday, and the ship will undergo repairs before it is put back in service.
“We don’t know a timeline at this point when the berth can be fixed,” said Marshall Wednesday morning.
Passengers waiting at Duke Point for later sailings were shuttled to Departure Bay.
Duke Point to Tsawwassen sailings have now been moved to Departure Bay instead of Duke Point and will continue to run on the regular schedule, as will Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay sailings.
Marshall said it will likely be busier than normal at Departure Bay, so passengers should leave some extra time to ensure they make their sailings. B.C. Ferries does have experience running both the Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay-Tsawwassen routes at the same time as that was the routine in the mid-1990s when the mid-Island-Tsawwassen first started.
Coastal Inspiration, one of three Coastal class vessels used by B.C. Ferries, was put in service June 16, 2008. It can carry 1,604 passengers and crew and 370 vehicles, including 32 tractor-trailers.
For up-to-date information on ferry schedules, visit www.bcferries.com.