MV Columbia

In June of 2012, WaterBridge Steel was awarded a contract by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to design and build an 80 car commercial ferry to run on the Shelter Bay to Galena bay route on Upper Arrow Lake in the Central Kootenays.  The ferry was to replace two smaller vessels that were reaching the end of their life-cycles.

The new vessel, named the MV Columbia, is 320 feet long, 64 feet wide and weighs approximately 2.5 million pounds (1100 Metric Tons).  The new ferry was designed and built over a period of approximately 24 months on the shores of Upper Arrow Lake in the picturesque village of Nakusp, BC.  The MV Columbia was formally delivered to the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and went into service on June 26, 2014.  Click External link opens in new tab or windowhere for a video of the hull launch.

The MV Columbia has brought several significant advantages to the Upper Arrow Lake crossing including the following, all of which have resulted in fewer waits and a more enjoyable crossing:

  • Increased capacity
  • Wider lanes and smoother ramp transitions has ensured rapid loading and unloading
  • More reliable
  • More environmentally friendly than the vessels she replaced
  • Deck de-icing system
  • Quiet, smooth sailing

June - August 2012: Site Preparation.  Due to the size and complexity of the new vessel, it had to be built on-site on the shore of Arrow Lake.  WaterBridge found a good build site in Nakusp, BC, however the old Columbia Shake and Shingle Mill needed a lot of work to the be transformed into a ship yard. 

August - September 2012: Site Infrastructure Upgrades.   More than just site clean-up was required before we could start construction.   Between August and September of 2012, we had to do more than just clean up the site before construction could begin.  We upgraded mill buildings, and ran electricity several hundred yards to the lake shore to power welding equipment and other tools.  In this time, we also built and installed the structure which formed the foundation for assembling and launching the vessel.

September 2012: Keel Laying.  Historically, in the ship building trade the laying of the keel is an important milestone.  This is the point that officially signifies the start of construction and the point at which the ship ceremoniously comes into existence.

October - November 2012:  Midship Section Takes Shape.  The ferry was built from midship outward toward each end.  In October and November, the mid 56 feet of the vessel started to come together on the build grid.

December 2012: The snow has come!  Also the start of fabrication of the next 64 meet of vessel (32 feet at each end) which will form both the engine rooms.

January - February 2013:  Working under the big top.  Covering the hull is one of two 60' x 120' tarps we used to effectively work in all weather conditions.

March - April 2013: Constructing the engine and drive modules.  An early end to winter was much appreciated!

May - June 2013: Racing Against the Rising Water.

July 2013: The Race to Complete the Hull for Launch.  The hull of the vessel was launched virtually empty and with no deck-house built yet.  This allowed for the lightest vessel weight possible for a controlled side--launch.  The machinery and deck-houses were completed when the vessel was in the water.

July 28, 2013: Launch Day Finally Arrives!

August 2013 - June 2014: From Floating Hull to Finished Vessel.