Lady Rose Marine Services buys MV Tenaka from BC Ferries

Ferry will add a second vessel to Port Alberni tourism business.

Mike Surrell, owner of Lady Rose Marine Services in Port Alberni.

Mike Surrell, owner of Lady Rose Marine Services in Port Alberni.

Lady Rose Marine Services has purchased a small BC Ferries vessel with the intent of expanding its tourism business in Port Alberni’s harbour.

Lady Rose owner Mike Surrell has purchased the MV Tenaka car ferry, which most recently serviced a northern Gulf Islands route, between Quadra and Cortes islands. The ferry was taken out of service in December 2014.

“Our company has been in business for over 70 years providing passenger and freight service from the Alberni Inlet to Bamfield and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island,” Surrell said.

“With the acquisition of the MV Tenaka, we will continue to be the biggest tourism operator in Port Alberni employing local staff and supporting local businesses.”

Surrell purchased the ferry following a competitive bidding process, according to BC Ferries.

“When retiring vessels from our fleet, our first preference is always to find a buyer who will use the ship for continued commercial operation, so we are pleased that the MV Tenaka will continue to operate right here in British Columbia,” said Mark Wilson, BC Ferries’ vice-president of engineering.

MV TenakaBC Ferries would not disclose how much it received for the Tenaka “as two other ferries will be retired soon and offered for sale,” the company noted in a press release.

Surrell has been planning for this expansion for several years.

“That’s why we grabbed the Shell property when it became available,” he said of the fenced off lot between Lady Rose Marine and what is referred to as the Marine building housing several Harbour Quay businesses, such as Salmonberry’s Emporium.

“We’ve been working on this for a while.

“What the new vessel is going to do is continue the job the Frances Barkley has done to begin with. We are aware it’s a car ferry,” Surrell said, stopping short of saying whether he would be adding vehicle traffic to his passenger service.

The boats that have been stored behind the fence will be moved and a crane will be brought in to build a new dock for the second vessel. “We’ll have the same footprint as when they had the fuel dock here,” Surrell said.

Columbia Fuels used to have a fuel dock on the site until 2008, when it pulled out of the Alberni Valley. Soil remediation began in 2011 and Surrell fenced it off a couple of years ago.

Once the new vessel is in service, the Frances Barkley will move to the new dock space. Lady Rose Marine still has moorage space for another 100-foot vessel around the corner from the France Barkley’s regular berth—the same place the MV Lady Rose sat before it was purchased by Jamie Bray of Jamie’s Whaling Station and brought to Tofino.

“We’re going to bring the vessel home from the Deas dock and we will set it here for maintenance,” Surrell said. “We’re going to work on it through the summer…and in all likeliness we’ll send it to retrofit in the winter.

“It will go into service we think early next year.”

The 43-metre MV Tenaka was built in 1964 in Victoria for BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Highways. It was originally known as the Comox Queen, and was renamed Tenaka in 1977. It has a capacity of 100 passengers and crew and 24 vehicles.

Surrell said he bid on the ferry when the RFP went out because of the good maintenance record BC Ferries vessels have. “The reason I went after a BC ferry is phenomenal maintenance; the vessels are looked after top notch and it guarantees this company’s longevity for many years to come.

“I think it’s going to be a huge thing for the town’s future, especially with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation buying all that property in Bamfield. We’re investing a ton of money in this community again to develop it.”




Alberni Valley News