Former QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT Leaves Canada For Mexico


A British Columbia Ferries postcard view of the QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT as originally built.

The former 1963-built British Columbia ferry QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT has been sold for scrap.  The ship left Port Alberni, B.C. where she had been laid up since 2008, bound for Ensenada, B.C. (Baja California) Mexico on June 1, 2011.  The veteran ferry was launched on January 22, 1963 by Mrs. H. J. Burch from her builder’s yard, the Victoria  Machinery Depot in Victoria.  The ship was decommissioned on May 25, 2008.  During those 45 years she served faithfully on the B.C. Ferry service from either Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay on the mainland to Vancouver Island.  Less than a month after being retired, the vessel was purchased by Chinese interests for $1.7 million, who changed the name to PRINCESS JACQUELINE and replaced the Canadian registry with that of Cambodia.  The intent was for the ferry to see further service, but the timing of the sale coincided with the worldwide economic downturn and the long awaited trip to Asian waters never materialized.  Court action in British Columbia forced the sale of the ship for the amount of back moorage fees, insurance and legal fees.  The ocean-going tug ALLEN G out of San Diego is towing the 9,304 gross ton ship to Ensenada.  The final voyage is expected to last 12 days.

he QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT underway in 1971 after lenghtening. Photograph by Steven J. Pickens.

The design of the QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT evolved from that of the 1959 Black Ball ferry COHO.  The first two ships built in 1960 for the British Columbia Ferry Authority, the SIDNEY and the TSAWWASSEN, sprang from the designs of Philip Spaulding.  The QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT was the fourth in a slightly larger quartet of sisterships, all built during 1962-1963, each originally of 3,540 gross tons, with the capability to carry 106 cars and 1,000 passengers.  In 1969, the QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT was “stretched” by cutting the ship in half and adding a midsection which upped the tonnage to 4,890 gross, giving her a length of 401 feet (listed elsewhere as 426.4 feet overall).  In 1982, she was enlarged again, but this time by being cut horizontally, adding another deck and increasing the vehicle capacity to 400 cars, up to 1,394 passengers and nearly doubling the previous gross tonnage.

The final configuration of the 9,304 gross ton QUEEN OF ESQUIMALT after two rebuildings as seen in this view from 1989. Photograph by Steven J. Pickens.

Ensenada has become the final resting place for several ships from the Pacific Northwest in the last few years.  Four of the “Steel-Electric Class” of Washington State Ferries, built in 1927 are being dismantled there.  It remains to be seen if additional retired British Columbia Ferries will reach that same final destination.

For Shawn’s article on MV COHO click here: COHO-50-years-of-reliable-service

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake

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