Canadian ferry operator BC Ferries has awarded Damen Shipyards a contract to construct two new diesel-electric ferries. The agreement is a design-build, fixed-priced contract that provides BC Ferries with guarantees related to delivery dates, performance criteria, cost certainty and quality construction. The total project budget, which includes financing and project management costs, is approximately US$65.3m. The project is partially funded by the Canadian government. BC Ferries operates 24 ferry routes along the coast of British Columbia, Canada. The new vessels will be able to cover many of the companys routes to the Northern and Southern Gulf Islands off the coast of Vancouver. Part of a fleet renewal programme, the new ferries will replace the 59-year-old North Island Princess and the 53-year-old Quadra Queen II. Both vessels will be constructed at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania and are expected to enter service in 2020. The design will have capacity to carry approximately 44 vehicles and up to 300 passengers and crew. This is a design-build, fixed-priced contract that provides BC Ferries with substantial guarantees related to delivery dates, performance criteria, cost certainty and quality construction, said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries vice president of engineering. A key objective of BC Ferries fleet renewal programme and the acquisition of these two minor class vessels is to achieve capital and operating cost savings and efficiencies through an overall class and standardisation strategy.