UPDATED: Shipboard fire shuts down ferry route

NANAIMO - Queen of New Westminster back in service on Tsawwassen-Duke Point route.

A B.C. ferry was back in service on the Tsawwassen to Duke Point route this morning after a fire put the vessel out of commission Tuesday.

The Queen of New Westminster was out bright and early for its 5:15 a.m. sailing out of Tsawwassen Wednesday and has been put back in to regular service. Crews worked overnight to replace damaged insulation in the bow thruster compartment and a fire detector sensor head and conducted safety tests.

A fire in a bow thruster compartment on the ship cancelled its sailings from Duke Point to Tsawwassen. The fire broke out Tuesday just after the Queen of New Westminster, bound for Duke Point, departed from Tsawwassen at 10:15 a.m.

The vessel returned to the Tsawwassen terminal where passengers were evacuated via an overhead walkway.

Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, said two members of the crew were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

“It’s my understanding they are OK,” Marshall said. “There were no serious injuries, which is very good news.”

Marshall said, to her knowledge, no one was in the bow thruster compartment when the fire broke out.

The fire was knocked down by the ship’s hi-fog fire suppression system and the deluge system was also activated on the main car deck. The fire and smoke were contained to the compartment.

The deluge system uses the ship’s on-board water supply before switching over to sea water.

“The area that we activated was towards the bow of the vessel,” Marshall said. “There were about 15 vehicles parked on the main car deck. They were actually parked at the stern of the ship, so they shouldn’t have been impacted at all.”

Marshall said she was told the ship had only made it a short distance out of the Tsawwassen terminal before the fire started.

B.C. Ferries’ fire party and the Delta fire department responded to the craft at the terminal.

The ship was pulled from service for the remainder of the day.

B.C. Ferries’ Coastal Inspiration, which also serves the Duke Point/Tsawwassen route continued its regular schedule between the two terminals.

The Queen of Cowichan was scheduled to make extra sailings Tuesday from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay to handle commercial traffic diverted from Duke Point.

“Our operations team is working on contingency plans for [Wednesday],” Marshall said. “They’re also, obviously, inspecting the vessel and trying to figure out exactly what happened and how they can fix it.”

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, she said.

The Queen of New Westminster, built in 1964, was the replacement vessel for the Queen of Alberni, which normally sails the Duke Point to Tsawwassen route, but was removed for service work Oct. 10 and is not scheduled to return to service until Nov. 10.